Standards Are Not Enough--Training Is Also Needed

Sept. 1, 1996
The family of premises distribution standards maintained by the Electronic Industries Association (EIA, Arlington, VA) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA, Arlington, VA) provides the comprehensive requirements for a structured cabling system on the customer premises. However, this group of standards is just one-third of the equation.

Ron Provost, Bicsi

The family of premises distribution standards maintained by the Electronic Industries Association (EIA, Arlington, VA) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA, Arlington, VA) provides the comprehensive requirements for a structured cabling system on the customer premises. However, this group of standards is just one-third of the equation.

Also integral parts of the structured cabling system are design and installation. The best products in the world will not meet the performance requirements of the standards if the design is faulty or the components are not installed properly. The designer of the system, then, is the lynch pin in providing the customer with a structured cabling system that meets or exceeds the performance requirements set out in the standards.

The manufacturing sector of our industry has stepped up to the standards and developed products that meet or exceed the requirements of the EIA and TIA. These products have generally been tested and verified by independent testing laboratories. Purchasers can be reasonably assured that the products they buy meet the specifications published in industry standards and will perform up to expectations. But what about the design?

Traditionally, the design of telecommunications distribution systems has been delegated to the electrical engineer on a project. The electrical engineer, in turn, has used all the skills and knowledge relating to electrical distribution that he or she has gained over the years and applied them to the telecommunications design. Falling under Division 16, the telecommunications design has been the responsibility of the electrical-design team.

This process worked well, until the introduction of the EIA and TIA standards in 1991, when all the rules relating to the design and installation of telecommunications cabling changed.

Local area networks, as well as other new technologies, must be designed to these new standards. In addition, the pathway and space requirements for telecommunications cabling systems differ from requirements for electrical design and call for a different design approach.

A telecommunications designer, then, must be familiar with both the EIA and TIA standards and the appropriate design guidelines for the system that is being installed. But, where can this type of knowledge be acquired?

Bicsi (Tampa, FL), a nonprofit telecommunications association, offers a registration program for telecommunications designers. This course of study provides standards-compliant education for such designers and includes a demonstration of that knowledge in the form of an examination. Successful completion of the examination leads to a registered communications distribution designer (Rcdd) designation. Rcdds can then bring their expertise to the project`s design team, resulting in the best possible telecommunications design for the customer. For details, call 800-242-7405.

Ron Provost, Rcdd, is the governmental affairs liaison for Bicsi in Tampa, FL, and a telecommunications industry consultant and educator.

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