Regulatory and technical sessions draw full house at BICSI

It is clear that the construction industry does not understand the telecommunications industry." With these words, Tom Rauscher, president of Archi-Technology llc (Rochester, NY) and a speaker at bicsi`s fall conference, capsulized the communications gap that exists between the two industries.

Catherine Varmazis

It is clear that the construction industry does not understand the telecommunications industry." With these words, Tom Rauscher, president of Archi-Technology llc (Rochester, NY) and a speaker at bicsi`s fall conference, capsulized the communications gap that exists between the two industries.

Speaking at the Governmental Relations Forum of the bicsi conference, last September in Las Vegas, NV, Rauscher explained that technology and communications requirements are currently part of Division 16 (Electrical Requirements) of MasterFormat, the document that architects use when planning new construction or renovations. This 317-page document devotes just two pages to technology and communications requirements. Too often, technology infrastructure is addressed as an afterthought, after construction has begun. "Under the current model, there is no space or money in a typical construction project for the technology systems--and not much time left to resolve the issues," said Rauscher.

A man with a plan, Rauscher not only stated the problem, he also proposed a solution. His company has developed Division 17, an organizational model that integrates the planning, estimating, and design of voice, video, and data infrastructures. Division 17 includes a series of technical drawings that can be plotted and used to bid on a job. In electronic format, they can be used to manage the technology infrastructure.

Technological considerations must be included in the design and construction process from the outset, Rauscher said. His goal is to get Division 17 (Technology and Communications Requirements) included in MasterFormat. For this to happen, Division 17 must become an industry standard and must be accepted by the Construction Specifications Institute (Alexandria, VA), which publishes MasterFormat. Rauscher encouraged listeners to download, review, and comment on the current draft of the Division 17 organizational model, which can be found at www.divi sion17.net.

Licensing laws

Another speaker at the Governmental Relations Forum was Massachusetts State Senator Michael Morrissey, who chairs the Government Regulations Committee in that state. Morrissey said the need for licensing of telecommunications workers has become evident whether they work in a union or non-union shop, and that many legislators view licensing as a consumer-protection issue. He considers licensing good for installers, too, because it ensures that capable, qualified people do the work.

The procedures for proposing legislation vary from state to state, but it`s a good idea to "find someone to carry the ball for you," Morrissey explained. "The first step is to educate your elected officials on the relevant issues." Comparing the "business of politics" to any other business, Morrissey cited the importance of making contacts in the legislature. "Many of you live in one district but work in another. That`s potentially twice as many contacts that you can make," he said.

"You need to work the system and get involved," Morrissey stressed, adding that union members are very successful in contacting their representatives. He noted that just a few phone calls or e-mails to elected officials can have a big impact: "I consider 10 calls a landslide," he remarked.

Ron Provost, governmental relations representative for bicsi, reported that a nationwide coalition, called the Low Voltage Systems Alliance, has been formed to share information regarding licensing (see "Massachusetts telecom licensing bill stalled," October 1998, page 120). bicsi is a member of the alliance, which is also working to draw up boilerplate language to be used when introducing licensing legislation state-by-state.

New transmission technology

During the technical sessions, Roger Billings, president of WideBand Corp. (Gallatin, MO), described a new baseband technology capable of transmitting 800 megabits per second over Category 5 cabling. WideBand technology combines the best attributes of Ethernet and Asynchronous Transfer Mode, according to Billings.

Unlike Ethernet, which detects data collisions and then retransmits packets, WideBand eliminates collisions through a technique known as "WideBand buffered packet synchronization," whereby all the channel`s bandwidth is available for data transmission because it is not being used for collision detection and recovery.

WideBand is a dual-channel technology that provides a 534-Mbit/sec client/server channel for conventional local area network traffic, and a 267-Mbit/sec "widecast" channel for streaming data types, such as videoconferencing. The WideBand Gigabit Networking Alliance has established a Web site (www.wgna.org) to promote the development of an open standard for this technology.

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