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Stay up to date on the latest in intelligent building solutions, infrastructure, and innovations from Paige Datacom Solutions.
  • Products & Innovation
  • 01.20.2020

Smart Cable for Smart Buildings

The terms “smart” or “intelligent” are synonymous when referring to designing today and tomorrow’s commercial buildings.  A smart or intelligent building incorporates ICT-based systems, services and technology to reduce operating costs, optimally utilize space, and improve energy efficiency at all stages of its life cycle.  And smart buildings are one of the fastest growing segments in the enterprise market.  In fact, it has been reported by market researchers that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for smart component solutions and services will grow 11-15% in the next four years. 

 

Smart buildings require an intelligent infrastructure that can support an integrated network of building systems.  The cabling infrastructure becomes the foundation of a smart building.  But a smart building is only as smart as its infrastructure design and component choices. And because of the diversity of applications and their requirements and locations, network designers are looking at unique solutions, such as Paige’s long-distance GameChanger Cable™ to reach these devices.

 

Smart Applications

For over 30 years the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry has been designing and installing the cabling infrastructure for voice and data applications.  Data and voice structured cabling easily became standardized to address generic requirements.  Most installations were cookie-cutter designs as the cable was pulled from the telecom room (TR) to work area outlets located 15” above the finished floor for connection to computers and phones.

 

Standards were put into place so that manufacturers’ cable and connectivity could be interchangeable, versus previous proprietary systems. IEEE-802.3 deemed that due to bandwidth requirements along with allowing backwards compatibility, that four-pair copper cable be limited to 100 meters (m) from the active equipment. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) introduced power to be run alongside data within the same cable, which reduced the number of cables to the work areas, but the distance to the device remained limited to the same 100-meter rule.

 

IP cameras over twisted pair and fiber opened the floodgates for additional devices to jump on the network through the Ethernet protocol.  More network applications became IP-enabled, including wireless access points, access control, lighting and building automation systems.  The good news is that these applications when integrated with each other create a smart building which leads to energy efficiency, resulting in a better environment for the users and cost savings for the building owners. 

 

The challenge of designing the cabling infrastructure for an intelligent building is that the applications may have their own unique cabling and layout.  For example, some LED lighting fixtures are connected directly with a point-to-point copper cable while others are connected to a node and then daisy chained to the devices.   Other challenges are that these devices are not terminated to a work area outlet, but to a service outlet which could be in the ceiling or even waist height, and many located outside the 100m limit.  But where there are challenges, there are solutions.

 

Smart Standards

Standard bodies such as ISO, TIA and BICSI are addressing the unique requirements for structured cabling to help the designers, consultants and contractors install systems to build a reliable network.  ISO/IEC 11801-6:2017 is the international standard that specifies generic cabling within premises comprising of a single or multiple buildings on a campus and is in sync with the North American TIA standards from ANSI (American National Standards Institute). ANSI/TIA published TIA-862-B-2016 Structured Cabling Infrastructure Standard for Intelligent Building Systems to provide minimum requirements for intelligent building cabling to support applications that use Ethernet communication, as well as accommodate other protocols that are typically used between devices. Specific content in the TIA standard provides guidelines for cabling types, topology, design and installation best practices and test procedures.  However, this standard follows the other previous TIA cabling standards to deploy applications over the same generic structured cabling topology used for telecommunications applications.  The main differences are terminology, such as equipment outlet versus telecom outlet, and distributor rooms to denote the location of termination equipment, which might not always be in a TR.  Also, there are exceptions for coverage area topologies, such as a direct connection, as discussed in their Annex C.  But, once again, the copper twisted pair cable is limited to 100 meters.

 

BICSI delves deeper with their published ANSI/BICSI-007-2017 standard, Information Communication Technology Design and Implementation Practices for Intelligent Buildings and Premises.  This standard provides recommendations for design and implementation of the cabling system, as well as specific building system applications for any size building or premise. The BICSI standards leverages the requirements by TIA and ISO but goes more granular into the best practices for planning spaces, topology and media selection for the additional building applications.  In addition, the BICSI standard recognizes that in many instances, the cabling infrastructure and cabling selection may vary. According to the BICSI-007 standard, “Layout and selection of horizontal cabling should be planned to incorporate the deployment of numerous building systems that may utilize an IP network” In addition, BICSI-007 recognizes that “Some building systems may require cabling other than balanced twisted-pair or optical fiber because of system and application architecture or manufacturer requirements.  Horizontal cabling should be planned to accommodate future equipment needs, which includes transitioning from proprietary systems to IP-based structured cabling, increased system bandwidth requirements, and the need to provide or increase power supplied through communications media. Primary decisions for cabling type are often based on manufacturer requirements, signal type, distance and location, power requirement, and longevity of building occupancy.”   Currently BICSI looks at all options and is reviewing longer-distance copper cable options such as the GameChanger.

 

Smart Choices: Thinking out of the box

Since it’s a fact that the building applications out outside of the realm of computers and phones and now encompass wireless access points, security cameras and access control, to name a few, the distance will often be located well outside the 100m limits from the switch or cross connections.  Some designers consider a  zone cabling layout (which is a horizontal connection point  between the telecom room and the device), but even that alternative is limited to 100 meters. The answer for smart contractors and designers is to implement the long-distance GameChanger cable from Paige Datacom for both data and power.   

 

Often it pays (or saves) to exceed the standards. Many distances for intelligent building devices from the active equipment are exceeded by application-based cabling and requirements unique to the specific system. The patented GameChanger cable more than doubles the distance of Category 6 or Category 6A (shielded, unshielded or outside plant) out to 260 meters (850 feet).  And in keeping with best practices, as recommended by the BICSI standards which states, “Horizontal cabling for intelligent building systems should be tested as part of the building’s and premise’s structured cabling solution,” the GameChanger cable can be tested with most industry field testers.  Check out more information on testing the GameChanger: 

 

As the intelligent building systems expand and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to explode, more devices will require network connectivity.  In-the-know designers and installers will think outside of the box in selecting the appropriate cabling infrastructure to specifically address the application requirements and endpoints.  To see how GameChanger is the smart choice for intelligent buildings, check out our resources and our white paper

  • Products & Innovation
  • 12.18.2019

Scoring Big With GameChanger: Meeting stadium cabling challenges

‘Tis the season for sports fans to focus on football playoffs, bowl games and championships. High on their list are game tickets, travel plans and hopeful celebrations. Far from their minds are the intricacies on how the games are delivered, either in person or through media (either via the Internet or on live TV). Fans don’t care, as long as the network works. Rest assured that the technology team at Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami, Florida -- the site of the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020 -- is testing all their network equipment and cabling infrastructure to assure system reliability for the more than 65,000 fans headed to the stadium and the more than 100 million, anticipating to watch the broadcast.

For those of us in the information and communications technology (ICT) business, it’s job priority #1 to make sure the network works. There are many challenges to designing and installing a reliable network cable plant in a stadium environment. Think about the many IP applications found in that environment – from digital A/V such as scoreboards and displays to IP security cameras, access control, LED lighting and all forms of data communications – digital antenna systems, Wi-Fi and even hard-wired computers and phones for rotating television affiliate stations and all their sports reporters. What would happen if in the middle of the Super Bowl, the network failed? The blame would most likely fall on the IT department, who would then turn to the the cable and connectivity provider.

Also, consider the size of the venue which includes thousands of seats, concession stands and of course, the heart of the game and focal point -- the field, which is 100 yards long and 53 yards wide with the two 10-yard endzones totaling a minimum of at least 55,000 square feet. Imagine running communications cable to devices on and off the field and figuring out methods to extend network cable past the standard 100-meter limit (i.e. as a reference the 100-yard length equals 300 feet and note that the maximum copper cable channel distances are limited 328 feet). Clearly, stadiums require long-distance runs and there are varying solutions for this scenario.

In addition, most new stadiums are multi-purpose – not just for one sporting event but for many diverse venues such as concerts, baseball, ice hockey or tennis. Careful planning goes into cable type, termination points and cross connections, such as the location of the telecom rooms and enclosures in relation to device requirements and flexibility to adapt.

Cost-effective Winning Solution

The diverse IP applications now require both data and Power over Ethernet (PoE) over a reliable low-voltage network. When it comes to designing the cabling infrastructure in stadiums, one of the biggest factors is the extended distances between the network switch and the device location. With all challenges, there are solutions and the decision comes down to, what’s most reliable and cost-effective?

The GameChanger™ long-reach cable has proven itself a winner in wide-ranging areas such as large campuses, airports, and of course, stadiums. GameChanger can provide up to 90W (Type 4 PoE) of power with 10 Mb/s up to 260m (850 feet) and 1 Gb/s up to 200m (656 feet) – twice the distance of the maximum standards’ defined channel length. In addition, GameChanger is a cost-effective solution. Recently, a third-party consultant compared GameChanger to a hybrid fiber solution and a typical Category 6 cable with extenders, in a 860,000-square-foot facility to provide data and power to 106 IP cameras. The longest cable run was 850 feet and the highest bandwidth for the video stream was 20 Mb/s. The options and cost comparison of the cable, connectivity and miscellaneous active components to provide the data and PoE from the switch to the devices included:

  • Hybrid fiber/copper system with power supplied, fiber connectors, repeaters and media converters: $126,570
  • Category 6 cable with repeaters/extenders: $104,525
  • GameChanger cable including surge protection: $22,305

Check out the details of this case study online here.


More Than Just for Football

 Most major stadiums being built or going through renovations to address burgeoning IP applications, specifically advanced digital A/V, also need to be flexible. Whereas a stadium hosting a major football game one week, may need to convert to multiple tennis courts the next.

“Converting a large football stadium to a tennis court, is a whole different ball game,” states David Coleman, Senior Vice President, Business Development of Paige Datacom, who is often faced with providing cabling solutions to many different facilities and environments. “You have to take into account the many factors of reconfiguration when changing the venue, which most likely includes different seating formations, as well as the different flooring surfaces and layouts,” describes Coleman. “Ultimately, when these changes are made, so are IP device locations. Therefore, the infrastructure, including the cable and pathways, needs to readily adapt,” he explains.

For a recent stadium conversion, the location of the IP cameras from a football field to tennis courts needed to be redesigned and the contractor was faced with changing the cabling and connectivity layout. Originally the contractor had looked at using extenders on the copper cable, but it meant that the termination equipment would be located under the 50-yard line. “That just wasn’t going to fly, because it meant pulling up the 50-yard line which would be damaging and costly to replace,” explains Coleman. “After looking at the options and showing him the GameChanger, he specified this cable as the obvious solution because of its extended distance capability and practical budget,” he adds. With a flexible and reliable infrastructure and cabling options, such as GameChanger, any application can be added to the network at any point by adding a simple connection to the switch.


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This blog post was written by Carol Oliver, RCDD, DCDC, ESS, BICSI President-Elect (2020-2022), President (2022-2024)
For more about Carol Everett Oliver, visit: www.ceocomm.com

  • Industry News
  • 12.04.2019

How Airports Are Going the Distance with Data and Video

When you think of airports, you think of big, sprawling spaces, including parking garages and terminals. It’s a large, bustling infrastructure filled with retail stores, jetways, baggage-handling facilities and boarding areas. Typically, cabling is traversing this vast interior, supporting the vital information displays that travelers depend on - and of course, an extensive network of security cameras and equipment.

Making the necessary and critical cable connections in these large airport spaces has always been cumbersome and expensive. And then along came a gamechanger, if you will.


Airports across the country have started deploying Paige’s GameChanger™ Cable, successfully reducing the need for IDF’s (Intermediate Distribution Frame), resulting in an average savings of $107,000, while eliminating potential points of failure.

The patented GameChanger Cable may look like and install like standard Cat6, but it can run twice as far. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) evaluated it and verified the claim that it delivers 1 Gbps performance and POE+ over 200 meters. See the report from UL here.

With the recent surge of interest in adopting GameChanger Cable in airports, Kristin Shaw of Airport Improvement magazine interviewed David Coleman Executive VP of Paige at the Airport Consultants Council Annual Conference. Watch the video interview here:


For more information on Airports and how to successfully meet their unique communications and cabling requirements, you are also invited to read our Airport White Paper – “Cabling the Friendly Skies

  • Industry News
  • 11.12.2019

The Heat is On: GameChanger Elevated to Meet High-Power PoE at Longer Distances

It’s been a year since high-power PoE was defined and ratified by IEEE 802.3bt. So, what has changed in the low-voltage industry and what are the challenges for system designers and contractors when selecting and installing cables for high data and high power? High-power PoE, more commonly known as Type 3 and Type 4, utilize all four pairs of a twisted-pair cable, hence IEEE 802.3bt refers to this as four-pair PoE. Type 3 can provide up to 60W of DC power from the source to a typical maximum of 51W to the device and Type 4 provides up to 100W from the source to up to 71W at each port.

Overview of Power Types by IEEE Standards:

NomenclatureStandardMin Power at PSE Output Max Power at PD InputNo of PairsMax Current per Pair
PoE (Type 1)IEEE 802.3af-2003 15.4 W13.0 W2-pairs350 mA
PoE+ (Type 2)IEEE 802.3at-200930.0 W25.5 W2-pairs600 mA
4-pair High PoE (Type 3)IEEE P802.3bt-2018 60.0 W51.0 W 4-pairs600 mA
4-pair High PoE (Type 4)IEEE P802.3bt-201890.0 W71.3 W4-pairs960 mA


The good news is that more devices, such as digital displays, laptops, televisions, access points and advanced IP cameras, can be powered through the network cable versus having to connect with other cables and to an AC outlet. Think of the freedom. Think of the cost savings. So, what’s the downside?

Turning up the heat

Category cables can power the PoE-enabled device as long as there is sufficient wattage at the source (i.e. a powered switch) to power the unit all the way till the end of the cable run and assure that the voltage has not exceeded the specified voltage drop. The voltage drop is affected by the end device requirement (typically 48V-57V), cable construction based on individual specifications and distance of the run. To calculate the voltage drop (V), multiply the current or amps (A) by the cable ohm resistance (W) which can vary between cable types.

With higher power going through the cable on all four pairs, the identified inhibitors are heat build-up within the cable and the distance limitations. It’s still classified as “low-voltage” so be assured your cable won’t melt or burn, but be concerned that the internal temperature rise can result in increased insertion loss which decreases cable efficiency and affects the entire cabling system.

There are standards and codes to help with the design and selection of the proper cable for safety and performance -- NEC NFPA-70 (2017), TIA-TSB-184-A and TIA-569-D-2. Note that TIA and NEC differ in their maximum bundle sizes. NEC’s focus is safety and the 2017 code provides an ampacity chart (Table 725.144) for up to 192 cables, based on the bundle size, maximum current (A) per conductor, AWG size and cable temperature rating. TIA is concerned with assuring the data and power arrive safely to the powered device and identifies the contributing factors as the current (A) per pair, cable category and number of cables in the bundle (not to exceed 100). TIA provides recommended mitigation techniques and best installation practices to include: reducing the bundle size (manufacturers’ recommendation is not to exceed 24); spreading the cable out within the pathway (such as open cable tray) to provide air circulation; selecting a cable with a larger conductor size (i.e. 22 AWG versus 23 or 24 AWG); and, adhering to the manufacturers’ specifications for ambient and installed temperature ratings.

Extending the distances

Since the dawn of category cable history, dating back to 1983, IEEE 802.3 defined the distance limitation of a four-pair copper cable at 100 meters (which includes the patch cords on both ends). Today this is an age-old dilemma for which many can’t figure out how this rule came into existence or why it still exists. One hundred meters was a convenient length due to legacy specifications for data transmission (10Base-T and 100Base-TX) and could be backwards compatible. The longer the run, the more the signal degraded and the problem was presumed to get worse at higher bandwidths.

For power, the voltage drop and the resistance of the copper affects the length of the copper distance. Basically, voltage drop depends on the power transmission strength sent at the powered source and the gauge of the copper cable.

The restricted reach of 100 meters can severely limit the viable locations where end users can operate a remote IP-enabled device. Most devices requiring the high power PoE extend beyond the 100-meter limitations – think wayfinding signage in an airport, or scoreboards at a stadium, or security cameras in a parking lot.

Existing alternatives to extending the reach include running a hybrid coper/fiber cable with media converters and transceivers (which will require AC power), or installing extenders or repeaters for the copper cable. These options will add cost, as well as more points of failure. For more information, check out our previous blog.

Change the rules by changing the game

It’s a fact that the signal can degrade due to external and internal noise, but with the development of newer and better manufactured cables, there is a more cost-effective and reliable option. The solution is the GameChanger from Paige Electric.

The patented GameChanger cable supports all four types of PoE out to almost 40% farther than the standard 100-meter limitation. Power is carried over the larger 22 AWG conductors and the distance is only limited by the data bandwidth and the application -- 10/100BASE-T (10/100 Mb/s) out to 260 meters (850 feet); and 1000BASE-T (1 Gb/s) out to 200 meters (656 feet).

GameChanger greatly reduces any voltage drop concerns with proven 25%-40% less voltage drop than other typical category cables due to its excellent resistance rating. See the voltage drop chart on Paige’s website.

These cables are designed for all environments, meeting all codes – riser, plenum and outside plant – and are available in unshielded or shielded. In addition, they carry a UL listing. There’s no trick as these cables install and terminate like a traditional category cables and can be certified by most major field test equipment.

Why play by the rules, when you can change the game?


This blog post was written by Carol Oliver, RCDD, DCDC, ESS, BICSI President-Elect (2020-2021)
For more about Carol Everett Oliver, visit: www.ceocomm.com

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  • Announcements
  • 10.22.2019

Industry Award Winner GameChanger Cable Granted Patent

On October 22, 2019, Paige Datacom’s patent-pending GameChanger Cable™ is pending no more. This innovative cable, which won recognition as a Cabling Installation and Maintenance (CI&M) platinum award-winning product, secured its validated patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This patent ends the three-year quest to become the first four-pair datacom cable to perform beyond the 100-meter channel distance for Ethernet data and power (PoE).

This patent covers all three constructions of the GameChanger cable – riser, plenum and outside plant (OSP) and is available in shielded or unshielded. U.S. Patent No. 10,453,589 protects Paige Electric Company, and it’s DataCom Division, as the sole manufacturer to produce and market a twisted-pair cable that supports both data and PoE applications to extended distances, depending on the application, source and voltage levels.

The Ethernet standard, IEEE 802.3, which originally defined the copper cabling channel distance to 100 meters from the switch to the work station outlet, was specifically applied to computer and telephone applications. As IP networks have evolved to deliver data and PoE to security cameras, wireless access points and access control systems, infrastructure design has been challenged to stay within the distance limitations and rigors of the device locations.

Currently there are two different application specifications covered in this patent: 1) 10/100BASE-T (10/100 Mb/s) out to 260 meters (850 feet); and, 2) 1000BASE-T (1 Gb/s) out to 200 meters (656 feet). Before the GameChanger cable was developed, alternative methods to reaching extended distances included adding intermediate telecom rooms (or IDFs) and/or telecom enclosures. Other methods incorporate repeaters along the copper cabling system or installing a hybrid copper/optical fiber cable, which could send the data over the fiber and the power over the copper strands, but requires active media converters on the device end. Significant cost savings are being realized with the GameChanger by reducing intermediate cross connections and IDFs. Also, active components such as repeaters, transceivers or converters can be eliminated, which add to the system cost and complexity of the cable run with an additional point of failure.

The GameChanger cable supports all four types of PoE – from Type 1 which provides 15W from the powered source equipment (PSE) over two pairs all the way up to Type 4, which provides 90W from PSE through all four pairs. “By optimizing gauge size, twisting designs and material choices we’ve been able to make big strides in how far we can deliver data and power over Ethernet,” states David Coleman, Vice President of Business Development for Paige. “In the past, cabling has been developed first with Ethernet systems designed around the cabling. Paige has taken the reverse approach and developed a cabling system with Ethernet specifically in mind to maximize transmission distances,” adds Andy Pluister, Vice President of Engineering.

All major test equipment manufacturers have updated the software in their handheld testers to accept GameChanger’s distance and applications. With all these attributes coupled with global recognition through the this new patent, GameChanger cable lives up to its name in the ICT industry as a true infrastructure game changer.


This blog post was written by Carol Oliver, RCDD, DCDC, ESS, BICSI President-Elect (2020-2021)
For more about Carol Everett Oliver, visit: www.ceocomm.com

  • Technology News
  • 05.22.2019

But what about Coax?

What about Coax? This question comes up often when we discuss GameChanger cabling for CCTV video distribution. In fact, the comparison between twisted pair cables in general compared to coaxial cables arises with respect to costs, bandwidth, Ethernet over Coax (EoC) devices, MoCA (Multimedia over Coax), replacing older coax solutions, and media selection decisions in general.

Traditionally coax was the media of choice for short and longer haul CCTV video transmissions as it breaks the 100m barrier (like GameChanger) but only at lower bandwidths. Coax traditionally enjoyed a reign as the media of choice for both CCTV and residential cable distributions. The bandwidth that can travel over the coax will depend on the length of the channel, the strength of the signal, etc. Sending just video over coax is probably the easiest transmission. However, today, just video is simply not enough for most enterprises. The need to pass Ethernet traffic is equally as important. 

In order to have Ethernet over Coax, converters and the 100m rule are used. Generally, the coax fits into the long-haul port of the converter/transceiver, and a traditional patch cord is used to connect the transceiver to the end device. These transceiver devices run on average about $250 each for 10/100 and nearing $400 for Gigabit. Although these devices have gigabit ports on them, they do not actually extend a gigabit signal over the coax backbone (see MoCA below). The speed of the transmission decreases with length with the maximum speed generally around 144Mb/s over the coaxial link. One device is needed at the central location and one for each end device.

MoCa can be bonded (multiple channels together) to allow for gigabit transmissions over Coax. For full MoCA to work, one device is needed at the end point of each coax cable with an RJ45 category patch cord connecting the end device. In order to receive a full gigabit signal over MoCA, one needs a bonded 2.0 adapter. These are popular in residential applications where coax has already been distributed. Each MoCA capable adapter requires a power connection to AC power which increases the cost of the channel compared to a PoE link over twisted pairs.

When AC power is required, an AC power point must be installed the cost of which can range from $200-$800 with the average being about $350 for a simple install. Alternatively, an additional power carrying pair on a Siamese Coax/18-2 cable can be used. In this scenario, the termination time is slightly longer due to the fact that both the coax and the 18/2 or power carrying cable must be terminated. Should either side of this cable have a fault, either the entire cable must be replaced, or the failing media side must be replaced and terminated. The additional cable width may be impossible to accommodate in the conduit or pathway provided. The power is limited by the conductor size and code requirements.

A PoE switch can be used for Ethernet and power natively over category twisted pair without additional hardware for 100m configurations. For GameChanger, the distances supported are 850’ for 10Mb/s Ethernet and 656’ (200m) for 1Gb/s without any additional devices. One simply needs the switch supplying power and the device that uses it transmitting Ethernet and PoE over the same cable.

The same is not true for coax communications that need PoE. PoC (Power over Coax) adapters are available, although many varieties are active meaning that they require a power connection. The bandwidth at 200m is still only 100Mb/s as opposed to Gigabit with GameChanger. But more notable is the power limitations with many of these devices.

GameChanger can fully support all classes/types of PoE over the full 200m. This makes features like PTZ (pan, tilt, and zoom) available to the end device without having to include an AC power point at the end of the channel or additional transceivers in the channel. For PoE voltage loss charts, click here. The charts show full support for all types and classes of PoE using GameChanger.

For a dollar and cents comparison based on MSRP at 850’ and 656’ contrasting the cost of the coax, transceivers and installed AC power connections the GameChanger is less expensive on a job than the equivalent coax with adapters and AC connections. The GameChanger cable is slightly more expensive, but the overall complexity, risk, and points of failure are reduced to endpoints as opposed to every 100m (328’) with Ethernet over Coax.

 


Extenders and AC Power
Extenders Only
GameChanger w/ PoE+
10Mb/s 850’ (259m)$1,336.45$586.45$429.00
Gb/s 656’ (200m)$1,731.71$981.17$328.00


We acknowledge that there is a wide variety of adapters, pricing, and quality. Likewise, there are distance limits based upon the switch launch power and wire gauge configurations. The numbers above are based on the average price of equipment, $250 per AC power outlet, and average transceiver prices as available at the time of writing.

  • Products & Innovation
  • 04.03.2019

Is it Time to Upgrade Your Pathways and Practice Proper Abatement?

No matter the type of transmission media, the cables will require some type of pathway, support or conveyance mechanism to get from point A to point B. Pathways come in a variety of configurations to support the cables that connect our end devices. All have limited fill ratios, and some get overfilled over time due to moves, adds, and changes and increasing cable diameters.

In the US, there is a code requirement to remove abandoned cable from these pathways and spaces. That is not always the most straightforward task as the cables that need to be removed often end up buried under other cables and are difficult to identify. So as these no longer in use cables sit in trays, then more cable gets added compounding the problem.

When performing cable abatement (removal of abandoned cable), one trick is to make sure that each generation of cable has a different jacket color. Even though this goes against color coding site specifications, it makes sense to change those specifications for different categories making the identification of what needs to be cut up and removed easier. For fiber, the cladding is a different color for most grades, although Erica Violet is relatively new. It is not always enough to try to count on various diameters to identify cables as the differences can be too subtle. Likewise, trying to read the rating on jackets in dark spaces isn’t always the best solution either. In some cases, one might be lucky enough to use old cables as pull strings for the upgrade, but that rarely works in filled pathways.

People tend to forget to audit their pathways. The thought is, “If the cable fits, there it sits.” But this could not be further from the truth. A tray is designed for specific weight loads and fill. The weights are supported via the tray support mechanisms and the tray itself. You can’t keep adding to it and not expect some failure at some point. Do pathways collapse? Absolutely. The cables at the bottom can also fail due to the twists in the pairs or macro-bends in the fiber.
As upgrades and additional cables are added to the cabling systems, it makes sense to take stock of the pathways provided and their limitations. It may make sense to run new pathways for new cable plants during the upgrade. This could include j-hooks, basket tray, ladder rack, plastic fiber tray or any other conveyance system in place. If there is no pathway system, now is an excellent time to add one to become standards compliant. Conductive metal tray systems must be attached to the appropriate telecommunications grounding system. Now would be a good time to check those grounding connections.

To properly audit your pathways, you don’t necessarily have to verify them all. Start with the most populated pathway. If that one proves to be good, then the pathway system should be good. If not, then work backward from most crowded to least until you know you are within the tolerances for each type of basket tray, ladder rack or hook systems.

To do this, get a count (as best you can) of the number of cables in the pathway. Remember 40% is considered full by the standards to allow for airspace between cables. Once you count the number of cables, find the weight per foot from the manufacturer and the O.D. of the cable. If the original cabling manufacturer is no longer in existence, you can relatively safely use the same from another manufacturer. Then go to the tray manufacturer’s website (or one with very close specifications) and calculate the fill.

If your conveyance systems are close to capacity, it’s time to either abate the old cable or add new/additional tray for new cabling systems. In some cases, you may be able to add additional supports for weight, but that won’t fix the problems of smashed cables at the bottom of the stack. In data centers, maybe this is a good time to make sure that older pathways are not zinc to avoid the problem with zinc whiskers. The same rules hold true for cabinets and wire management in the data center. Remember, these, too are part of your cabling conveyance system.

Cable abatement takes careful planning in a live environment. If your abatement project is large, it may make sense to temporarily relocate resources so that you can perform the replacement in a down environment or empty part of your data center. No matter how you do it, pay attention to your pathways before they fail. For assistance in pathway selection and evaluation, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Paige salesperson.

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