Were about nuts and bolts as much as bits and bytes

t`s easy to become enthralled with the glamorous side of the cabling industry. We love to hear about bits and bytes, packets, protocols, client-server--the high-tech buzz that gives us the feeling that we are in the vanguard of the global telecommunications revolution.

Feb 1st, 1999

Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Group Editorial Director

arlynp@pennwell.com

t`s easy to become enthralled with the glamorous side of the cabling industry. We love to hear about bits and bytes, packets, protocols, client-server--the high-tech buzz that gives us the feeling that we are in the vanguard of the global telecommunications revolution.

And, in fact, we are in that vanguard. We are the planners and builders of the information superhighway, both nationally and internationally. But, note the use of that word: "builders." The telecommunications cabling industry is perhaps unusual in that it has both a glamorous high-tech side and a down-to-earth, nuts-and-bolts side. This other side of cabling involves the actual installation at a job site, whether new construction or retrofit.

It is essentially construction work--and until recently it has not received the attention it is due, perhaps because it is less glamorous than bits and bytes or maybe because the work is sometimes physically demanding, dirty, and even dangerous. Thomas C. Rauscher, president of Archi-Technology llc (Rochester, NY), is working to change that lack of attention (see this month`s "Endface," page 80).

Rauscher also pointed out at last autumn`s bicsi meeting (see "Regulatory and technical sessions draw full house at bicsi," December 1998, page 76) that low-voltage cabling installation is covered under Division 16 of the MasterFormat document of the construction industry, developed by the Construction Specifications Institute (csi--Arlington, VA). Division 16 covers electri- cal specifications for a building, and Rauscher says only two pages of the section are devoted to low-voltage requirements.

Rauscher argues persuasively that in the three decades since the MasterFormat was first issued, the world has changed a lot. High-tech, low-voltage cabling infrastructure deserves its own section of specifications, which he calls Division 17. What`s more, he and his company have outlined what should be in this section, and he is lobbying, both at csi and within the industry, for the addition of Division 17 to the MasterFormat.

We at Cabling Installation & Maintenance support Rauscher`s efforts and applaud the idea of a separate construction specification for low-voltage cabling infrastructure. Our industry is not a subsector of electrical contracting. We came out of telecommunications and data communications, both of which have their own concerns and priorities. If we are to succeed in establishing ourselves as an independent industrial sector and construction trade, we need Division 17.

Rauscher has put up a draft of what he would like to see in Division 17 at Archi-Technology`s Web site: www.division 17.net. We urge you to review the draft document and add your comments to the ongoing discussion at the Web address. Only if this is an industry-wide document, with the support of the majority of the cabling industry, will it prevail.

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