Getting involved with standards

Labeling and documentation are important steps in the installation of any cable plant. Accurate and comprehensive records make the network manager`s life easier by facilitating maintenance, troubleshooting, repair and plant upgrades. Also, given the large number of moves, adds and changes in a typical office building each year, up-to-date record-keeping is essential to maintaining any kind of administrative control over the cable plant. It is not surprising, then, that many new installations and

Apr 1st, 1995

Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Senior Associate Editor

Labeling and documentation are important steps in the installation of any cable plant. Accurate and comprehensive records make the network manager`s life easier by facilitating maintenance, troubleshooting, repair and plant upgrades. Also, given the large number of moves, adds and changes in a typical office building each year, up-to-date record-keeping is essential to maintaining any kind of administrative control over the cable plant. It is not surprising, then, that many new installations and plant upgrades call for labeling and documentation in the request for proposals or quotations.

What is a little surprising, though, given the importance of this area, is to hear from Cablenet Systems Inc.`s (Woburn, MA) principal Mike Kerwin that the industry`s administrative standard, Electronic Industries Association/Telecommunications Industry Association-606, is seriously flawed (see "Installers try different approaches to wire marking," February 1995, page 6). "I think it [the standard] was done by people who don`t do this for a living," Kerwin claims. He goes on to make a number of thoughtful observations about how the administrative standard might be improved.

Jim Romlein, president of MIS Lab (Watertown, WI) and active on the TIA committee that drafted the standard, was interested to hear about Kerwin`s criticisms. He pointed out that his committee launched the initial draft with the expectation that user input would be forthcoming to spur its revision into a more realistic document.

This interchange suggests two points: First, standards bodies need down-to-earth, practical input from the cabling contractors and network managers who must live with the results of their efforts. And second, those same standards bodies are eager for such input, but do not get that much of it.

This situation is perfectly understandable. Cabling contractors do not get paid for attending standards meetings, and they and network managers lose valuable working time if they choose to do so at their own expense.

But installers and end users who feel they do not have the time to comment on draft standards and standard revisions should ponder this question: What is the cost to them of performing unnecessary work or doing essential work in an impractical way? If this cost gets to be high enough, industry standards bodies will begin to get the grassroots input they need to put out an effective standard.

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