FCC rules on premises wiring

Although the Federal Communications Commission (Washington, DC) has deregulated premises wiring from the exchange carriers, the government organization still maintains certain wiring and component requirements. These requirements are set forth in Part 68 of the FCC`s Rules and Regulations.

R.G. Provost, RCDD

RGP Consulting Inc.

Although the Federal Communications Commission (Washington, DC) has deregulated premises wiring from the exchange carriers, the government organization still maintains certain wiring and component requirements. These requirements are set forth in Part 68 of the FCC`s Rules and Regulations.

In Docket 88-57, for example, the FCC establishes its demarcation-point policy. This much-debated policy defines the "minimum point of entry on the premises for the handoff from the regulated carrier to the customer." Although issues still need to be resolved, the order has been issued by the FCC.

The original demarcation-point policy established under Part 68 required that "the exchange carrier provide a jack, which was specified by the customer, at the point of connection of the registered terminal equipment." At that time, the premises wiring remained under the ownership and control of the exchange carrier.

In Docket 79-105, the FCC declared that all premises wiring must be deregulated. Also, the exchange carriers were ordered to separate this wiring from their networks. In a subsequent order in Docket 88-57, the exchange carriers were ordered to relinquish control of this premises wiring and allow connection to the network by any means, thereby removing the plug/jack connection as the only means of interconnection.

Applicable rules

Section 68.104 (Means of Connection) was amended to state that:

- Any jack installed by the telephone company at the demarcation point must conform to Subpart F on wiring and physical dimensions.

- Subject to the requirements of Section 68.213 (non-system premises wiring), connection of wiring and terminal equipment to the telephone network may be made through a jack conforming to Subpart F or by direct attachment to carrier-installed wiring, including splicing, bridging, twisting and soldering.

- Ringers provided by the telephone company may be connected according to the carrier`s reasonable and non-discriminatory standard operating practices.

- Connection to the network of wiring, which is subject to the requirements of Section 68.215 (private branch exchange and key system wiring), and terminal equipment used with that wiring must be through telephone company-provided jacks conforming to Subpart F, and the connection must allow for easy and immediate disconnection.

The demarcation point is defined in Section 68.3 of the rules as "the point of demarcation and/or interconnection between telephone-company communications facilities and terminal equipment, protective apparatus or wiring at a subscriber`s premises." Carrier-installed facilities at the demarcation point consist of wire or a jack conforming to Subpart F of Part 68 of the Commission`s rules.

According to FCC rules, premises is defined as "a dwelling unit, other building or a legal unit of real property, such as a lot on which a dwelling unit is located, as determined by the telephone company`s reasonable and nondiscriminatory standard operating practices."

The minimum point of entry is defined as "either the closest practicable point to where the wiring crosses the property line or the closest practicable point where the wiring enters a multiunit building or buildings. The telephone company is not precluded from establishing reasonable classifications of multiunit premises, which include residential, commercial, shopping center and campus situations."

For single-unit installations, the demarcation point is "a point within 12 inches of the protector or, where there is no protector, within 12 inches of where the telephone wire enters the customer premises." For multiunit installations, the demarcation point is determined "according to the local carrier`s...standard operating practices--provided that, where there are multiple demarcation points within a multiunit premises, a demarcation point for a customer shall not be farther inside the premises than a point 12 inches from where the wiring enters the customer`s premises."

In multiunit premises in which wiring has been installed after August 13, 1990, the telephone company may "place the demarcation point at the minimum point of entry. If the telephone company does not elect to establish a practice of placing the demarcation point at the minimum point of entry, the multiunit premises owner can determine the location of the demarcation point or points." The multiunit owner can determine if there should be a single demarcation point for all customers or separate locations for each customer.

Intent of the rules

Although the language of these rules can be confusing, the intent is clear: The demarcation point must be established so that customers can control their premises wiring. The installer should check with the service provider to determine its demarcation policy.

Although the FCC has ruled that customers may connect to the network by any means, if a plug/jack connection is made, the plug/jack must meet FCC requirements noted in Subpart F of Part 68. In addition, all connectors (jacks) installed on the customer premises must comply with FCC rules. Subpart F requirements provide dimensions and technical specifications.

Part 68 also has requirements on the cabling used in the customer premises. In Section 68.213 on simple wire (up to two lines) and Section 68.215 on complex (system) wiring, the FCC has included rules for the connection of simple and complex wiring to the network. Complex wiring has to be installed under the supervision of a trained supervisor and be the type of wire that was originally specified for the installation. Simple wiring, on the other hand, can be installed by untrained personnel. However, it must meet FCC 1500-volt (root-mean-squared) breakdown rating.

Industry groups are discussing the installation of simple wiring. The issues concern the use of cabling other than telecommunications-grade wiring in residential installations, which creates crosstalk for customers. This problem can be resolved by using cabling that meets the standards of the Electronic Industries Association and the Telecommunications Industry Association (both in Arlington, VA).

Ronald G. Provost, RCDD, a consultant and educator at RGP Consulting Inc. (Woodcliff Lake, NJ), is also manager of the governmental relations committee of the Building Industry Consulting Service International Inc. (Tampa, FL).

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