Training for Telecommunications Designers: Arent the Standards Enough?

The Telecommunications Industry Associa-tion/Electronic Industries Association`s (tia/eia--Arlington, VA) premises distribution standards, such as the commercial building telecommunications cabling standard tia/eia-568a, provide comprehensive requirements for a structured cabling system (SCS). But these standards are just part of the equation. Design and installation are also essential parts of the SCS. The best products in the world will not meet performance requirements if the design is fault

Ron Provost

The Telecommunications Industry Associa-tion/Electronic Industries Association`s (tia/eia--Arlington, VA) premises distribution standards, such as the commercial building telecommunications cabling standard tia/eia-568a, provide comprehensive requirements for a structured cabling system (SCS). But these standards are just part of the equation. Design and installation are also essential parts of the SCS. The best products in the world will not meet performance requirements if the design is faulty or if the products are installed incorrectly. Therefore, the designer of the SCS is the lynch pin for providing a system that meets the requirements set in the standards.

The manufacturing segment of our industry has met these demands by developing products that meet or exceed tia/eia-standard requirements. These products, for the most part, have been tested and verified by independent testing laboratories. Purchasers can be reasonably assured that the products meet the standards` requirements and performance expectations.

But what about the design? Traditionally, the design of the telecommunications distribution system has been delegated to the project`s electrical engineer. The engineer, in turn, used all the electrical-distribution skills and knowledge that he or she gained over the years and applied those skills to the telecommunications design. This worked fairly well until the introduction of the tia/eia standards in 1991. At that time, all the rules changed relating to the design and installation of telecommunications cabling.

Local area networks and other new technologies have been designed to meet these new standards. Also, the pathway and space requirements for telecommunications differ from electrical-design requirements. And a different approach must be used with a telecommunications system. A designer of such systems must be familiar with both the standards and the guidelines for the SCS being installed. Because telecommunications is part of Division 16, the telecommunications designer must be part of the electrical-design team.

BICSI (Tampa, FL) offers a registration program for telecommunications designers. This course provides standards-compliant methods education for designers and includes an examination. Successful completion of the test leads to the registered communications distribution designer (rcdd) designation.

Ron Provost, rcdd, is the governmental affairs liaison for bicsi (Tampa, FL) and a telecommunications industry consultant and educator.

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