In the near future, traditional video, audio, and security systems will be integrated into the low-voltage cabling infrastructure. However, "cabling installers may find this integration disquieting because each of these industries has a very distinctive culture," says bicsi`s Warmke.
More specifically, telecommunications cabling contractors (tccs) may find even more disquieting the ongoing migration of electricians into the low-voltage arena. "That`s a legitimate and growing threat," warns Dennis Mazaris, president of PerfectSite (Sterling, VA). "It`s a much easier transition for an electrician with an electrician`s license to install low-voltage telecommunications cabling than it is for tccs to get licensed to install high-voltage cabling."
To date, electrical contractors have tried unsuccessfully to corner a portion of telecommunications cabling market through legislation. A case in point is the ongoing battle in the Massachusetts legislature over House Bill H2288, which would require tccs to be licensed by the state Board of Electrical Examiners. "Although the telecommunications and electrical industries are related, they are different," says Phil Milan, registered communications distribution designer (rcdd), who is president of Neponset Telecom Co. Inc. (Boston) and chairman of the New England Interconnect & Data Communications Association, which helped overturn a similar bill in Rhode Island. "We took the bull by the horns in Massachusetts," he says. As a result, Milan adds, "H2288 is effectively dead."
But despite these individual state efforts to stave off domination by electrical contractors of the lucrative domain of telecommunication cabling installation, "electricians will nonetheless garner a greater share of work on low-voltage installations, not through legislation, where they`ll continue to be unsuccessful, but through increased competencies and better marketing of their services," notes Warmke, whose organization has been instrumental in preventing legislation that`s unfriendly to tccs.
Still, most agree that licensing to install low-voltage telecommunications cable and hardware in every state will become a reality over the next few years. Unfortunately, "most licensing that I have seen proposed throughout the United States has been preoccupied with revenue or job-security issues instead of ensuring quality installations, life-safety protection, and proper construction measurements," remarks Russ Oliver, rcdd and vice president of network systems integration operations at Williams Communications Solutions llc (Marlboro, MA). "As nationwide licensing and certification of designers, installers, and technicians becomes more and more of a requirement, I hope state, local, and federal governments will do the right thing by making quality and life safety the main driving forces in their legislation."