Installation and Management of Telecommunications Infrastructure

Technical Bulletin (2003-001)

Purpose

This document is intended primarily for Property and Facilities Managers and AFD Property Managers, but may be used by CASAs, Leasing Officers and others associated with real property issues. This document is an integral part of the Telecommunications Best Practice and is intended to provide supporting technical information. The attached Appendix A provides additional information concerning a building's telecommunications infrastructure.

For purposes of this document, the "telecommunications infrastructure" in a building has two major components:

  • telecommunications spaces (e.g. rooms) and pathways (e.g. conduit, cable tray); and
  • telecommunications cables and related components such as jacks, cross-connection hardware, etc.

For purposes of this document, the telecommunications infrastructure does not include electronic equipment installed in telecommunications rooms (e.g. LAN switch, router, PBX etc.) or telecommunications equipment installed elsewhere in the building (primarily work areas) such as telephone sets, FAX machines or network cards installed in computers located either at work areas or in server rooms.

Background

Many Federal Government Departments and Agencies developed their telecommunications infrastructure independently and without any central co-ordination. In buildings housing more than one department, typically, each department plans and installs its telecommunications infrastructure based on the specific space it occupies, without regard for other departments housed in the building. This leads to a situation, where the used standards and approaches followed by occupant departments and agencies are different and not optimal from the point of view of the Government of Canada.

In particular, this fragmented approach leads to inefficiencies when the departments' space requirements change in any significant way. Often, the telecommunications infrastructure has to be replaced or significantly changed. This incurs the additional capital expenditures and the space may remain vacant for a longer period than would have been required had a re-usable telecommunications infrastructure been designed and installed following a holistic approach.

This situation has largely been caused by funding policies, as an individual department is typically required to pay for part (or all) of the telecommunications cabling in its space. In some specific projects, PSPC has funded the building's telecommunications infrastructure and installed a holistic system that is flexible and can endure multiple tenancies provided it is properly managed after it is installed.

Some of the additional common concerns and deficiencies are listed below. One or more of these issues may be present in the same buildings.

Recommendations

Holistic Design, Installation and Management

Observations

Major cabling projects are being contracted by the occupants without the knowledge or consent of the building manager. In some cases, new cabling is installed that does not follow the appropriate codes and regulations or good engineering practices. These same problems may arise during ongoing work to implement changes in the cabling plant as a result of moves, adds or changes in personnel and equipment. Some examples of these problems are:

  • cabling is installed without supports and rests on ceiling tiles
  • cabling is not appropriately fire rated
  • firestopping is not used
  • cabling is installed too close to electrical fixtures, cabling creating a hazard in service tunnels (confined spaces)
  • cabling systems and the infrastructure they support may interfere with other systems e.g.: electrical or Building Automation, in-building communications etc.
  • cabling is not labelled or mapped
  • accurate records are not maintained and may not even be provided
  • redundant cabling is not removed.

There are three main sources of capital and O&M savings resulting from following a holistic approach to the design, installation and management of the telecommunications infrastructure. The Appendix A provides an explanation of the telecommunications infrastructure in a building, what is understood by a holistic design, and the advantages of a holistic design over the typical fragmented approach.

  • Installing the telecommunications infrastructure under a single contract will produce cost savings over installing the same infrastructure with multiple smaller contracts – one for each occupant department or agency
  • The telecommunications infrastructure can be easily adjusted and re-used when the occupants change, if the requirements of any occupant change or there is a change in space allocations to occupant departments or agencies.
  • The cost of implementing MACs (moves, adds, changes) to the telecommunications cabling system (required when the occupants re-locate personnel) is reduced when accurate records are maintained and orders are bulked to consider the needs of all occupant departments so the cabling company can undertake work for more than one occupant on a single visit.

Recommendations

  • The telecommunications infrastructure should be designed, implemented and managed on a holistic basis.
  • A comprehensive Cable Plant Management system should be implemented in order to manage the infrastructure and maintain the up to date records. Where available (e.g. currently in the NCA, soon to follow in the regions) the preferred option is the PSPC Cable Plant Management (CPM) service offering.
  • Accurate, records must be created by the contractor undertaking the initial installation and be maintained by contractors implementing ongoing MACs. Such records (preferably in an electronic form) are an essential component of the cable Plant Management System. In order to create the records of an existing system, a detailed telecommunications audit should be performed.

Telecommunications Spaces and Pathways

Observations

One of the most critical elements in any building is the infrastructure of spaces (rooms) and pathways (conduit, cable trays). These must be planned at early stages of the project. They are one of the most important components to consider when providing a system that will endure. When properly designed, spaces and pathways will facilitate future changes to the infrastructure.

When implementing an infrastructure of spaces and pathways, one should take a holistic approach and consider the building as a whole, not just the space allocated to each occupant. Telecommunications rooms are defined by standard as being shared — all tenants served by them must have access.

Further information on telecommunications spaces and pathways may be found in the Appendix A

Once the plan for the telecommunications spaces and pathways is developed, it is desirable to construct the main terminal / equipment room (MT/ER), entrance room (ER), and floor telecommunications rooms (TRs) as soon as possible. This will permit the installation of backbone cabling and the establishment of a single point of demarcation for the facilities of all telecommunications carriers serving the building and avoid the necessity for carriers to run their cables to several locations within the building.

If the existing telecommunications rooms may continue to be used (expanded as required), it should be possible to establish a holistic backbone in the existing rooms, thus accelerating the process of moving to a single point of demarcation.

Recommendations

  • Evaluate the existing telecommunications spaces and pathways in each building. Undertaking the Telecommunications Infrastructure Audit (TIA) will accomplish this task. A template for the TIA is available from PFM.
  • Develop a plan for the telecommunications spaces and pathways that should be implemented taking into account the deficiencies in the current infrastructure, the requirements of standards (referenced in the Appendix A) and the particular challenges of the building. A qualified telecommunications engineer should undertake this task.
  • Develop an implementation strategy.
  • Establish an Entrance Room that will house terminations of cables of the telecommunications carriers. It will also house equipment owned by the telecommunications carriers and the point of demarcation between equipment of the carriers and equipment of the Crown.
  • Establish a single Main Terminal / Equipment Room (MT/ER) in the building. The MT/ER should service the entire building or at least all Federal Government clients.
    Note: The client's Computer Room or a Data Centre should not be confused with the MT/ER or ER. The client's Computer Room equipment should be connected to the building's telecommunications infrastructure in a similar fashion to any other computer.
  • Establish Telecommunications Rooms (TR) on every floor, so as to be preferably accessible from core or common space.
  • Ensure that any subsequent construction (including fit-up) is compliant with the plan.
  • Install a common backbone cabling system as soon as possible. Once installed, encourage occupants to use it and ensure that cables and equipment of the telecommunications carriers are removed or re-located to a single point of demarcation, preferably in the Entrance Room.
  • Ensure subsequent horizontal cabling is installed to use this backbone cabling.
  • Ensure accurate records are produced for the installation and that they are kept current. The PFMs or their agents should be responsible for maintaining these records.
  • Where appropriate, recommend the PSPC Cable Plant Management service offering.

Lease/Licence Agreements

Observations

Many telecommunications carriers serving buildings are not covered by licensing agreements. There are CRTC decisions that regulate access to the building. Carriers frequently insist on having their own separate point of presence (POP) rooms within a building.

Leased Accommodation Directorate has created a generic telecommunications licence agreement template that can be used by PFMs with the assistance of Leasing. Lease Agreements and Occupancy Instruments are not aligned with what a client can and cannot do with regard to in-building wiring in crown-owned buildings. Telecommunications Licence Agreements are being modified to spell out in detail what a client can and cannot do.

Note: PFMs are not to enter into service agreements with carriers - use PSPC telecom licence agreement (TLA)

Installations of antennae and other carrier-owned equipment on rooftops is frequently not covered by licence agreements

Recommendations

  • Access to the building will have to be covered by the "Licence Agreement" with the carrier. These agreements should cover all carriers (existing and new).
  • If the building has a crown-owned backbone cabling system:
    • carriers should be required to terminate all their cables and install any equipment they own in a single shared room, preferably the Entrance Room
    • carriers should not be allowed to run their cables to other locations within the building
    • carriers should be assigned space in this shared entrance room according to their actual needs
    • carriers should be required to remove their equipment when it is no longer needed
    • carriers must be responsible for protecting their equipment within this shared room by e.g.: providing their own caged-off area, locked cabinets etc.
  • If the building does not have a crown-owned backbone cabling system, on a temporary basis:
    • carriers may be permitted to run their cables to the specific location requested by the occupant, subject to the approval of PSPC
    • carriers may be permitted to install their equipment at the specific location requested by the occupant
  • Licence agreements must:
    • reflect the above requirements
    • include a statement on liability from providing shared room for the carriers and disruption to their services resulting from damage or any disruption to the integrity of crown-owned cables within the building
    • respect CRTC decisions
  • Access to the rooftops needs to be managed in a similar fashion to the general building access. Any carrier that installs any equipment on the rooftop should have an appropriate Licence Agreement.
  • Carriers must provide proof that equipment is installed safely and respect all appropriate codes.
  • It is imperative that the integrity of the rooftop and the building cabling infrastructure are maintained.
  • Cables from rooftop installations providing services to building occupants should be routed through pathways and terminated in the Entrance Room.

Security

Observations

In many buildings, there are no clear protocols or procedures controlling access to the telecommunications rooms.

Recommendations

  • Procedures or protocols must be established concerning access by PSPC, the occupants, and the telecommunications carriers to telecommunications rooms, the MT/ER and the ER. These procedures or protocols must respect legitimate security concerns while providing necessary operational efficiencies. If a holistic cabling system is installed, carriers will generally require access to only the ER.
  • These procedures must take into account:
    • the need of each party to access a particular room
    • the access system controlling these rooms (e.g. lock, access card, lock plus alarm with PIN number etc.)
    • the minimum security clearance of personnel for whom access is permitted.
  • Procedures should provide an audit trail of who entered what room and when the room was entered.

Definitions

MT/ER
Main Terminal / Equipment Room; location where the backbone terminates and all cross-connects are made; usually in the bottom part of the building. Also houses Crown-owned electronic telecommunications equipment, such as LAN switches, routers, etc.
ER
Entrance Room; location where all carrier services terminate; the demarcation point for outside wiring; separate part of the MT/ER or a room adjacent to MT/ER
TR
Telecommunication Room; location where all horizontal wiring on each floor terminates and connects to the building backbone; usually houses the LAN switches and other active telecommunications equipment serving the floor.
Backbone
The cables joining each TR to the MT/ER.
Demarcation Point
A point where the operational control or ownership changes. In the context of this document the point of demarcation is the location that separates cables and other equipment owned by the telecommunications common carriers (e.g. Bell, Telus, AT&T, Rogers) and cables and other equipment owned by the building's landlord and / or tenants. In geographic terms, it is analogous to a border.

Appendix A: Telecommunications Infrastructure Highlights

The telecommunications infrastructure of a building has two major components:

  • telecommunications spaces (rooms) and pathways (e.g. cable tray, conduit); and
  • telecommunications cabling linking telecommunications rooms together and also running from the on-floor telecommunications room (formerly called a "closet") to the work area or end device, such as a server.

Telecommunications standards have been developed around these two major components.

Standards for telecommunications spaces and pathways are provided in CAN/CSA-T530-99 "Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces" (T530). This CSA standard is a reprint of the equivalent American standard TIA/EIA-569-A. As there have been addenda issued to the American standard that are not included in the CSA standard, the American Standard (TIA/EIA-569-A plus addenda) is now more current than the CSA equivalent. Consequently, it is preferable to refer to the TIA/EIA standard, while taking into account appropriate Canadian code requirements.

Standards for telecommunications cabling are contained in the related standard CAN/CSA-T529-95 "Telecommunications Cabling Systems in Commercial Buildings" (T529). Once again, this CSA standard is a reprint of an equivalent American standard. However, since the CSA standard has not been updated in over 7 years, it became obsolete while TIA/EIA-568-B (its American equivalent standard) has been updated many times. Accordingly, it is recommended to use TIA/EIA-568-B, adjusted, as needed, to meet requirements of Canadian codes. Please note that the word telecommunications is defined in these standards to include all forms of electronic signals – voice, data, image, etc.

Typical Telecom System

This image desribes the typical telecommunications infrastructure in a building. See link below for long description.

Long description of the Typical System is available on a separate page.

The typical telecommunications infrastructure in a building as defined in these standards is illustrated in the drawing "Typical Telecom System". A similar drawing can be found in T530 or TIA/EIA-569-A at Figure 5.2-1. This infrastructure is required by Treasury Board Standard TBITS 6.9 to be implemented in any new or renovated building.

According to these standards, each floor contains at least 1 telecommunications room (formerly called "closet") ranging in size from 70 to 110 square feet, depending on the floor area served. Each TR serves up to 10,000 square feet of floor space and each is dedicated to the telecommunications function — there is no electrical distribution equipment in the TR.

Two (or more) cables (one for voice and at least one for data) are run to each work area from a TR located on the same floor as the work area. Each cable is terminated on a jack at the work area and on a cross-connection field in the TR. This wiring is called the "horizontal wiring". Note that a single line is used to represent all wiring to a work area (i.e. at least two 4-pair cables) and a single box is used to represent all jacks (at least 2) installed at the work area. This topology is called "star wiring" with the TR being analogous to the centre of the star and each work area being analogous to the points of the star. A substantial number of spare cables are typically installed to facilitate changes.

Backbone cables connect each TR to the main cross-connect located in the main terminal/equipment room (MT/ER). So a "star" topology is also used for backbone cabling. The MT/ER is also dedicated to the telecommunications function — there is no electrical distribution equipment in it other than that required for the telecommunications equipment installed in the MT/ER. The MT/ER should not serve as a computer room, either. It is preferable for the TRs to be stacked vertically to facilitate running backbone cables through them. The MT/ER is typically located in the basement, but it need not be. It may also function as a TR serving work areas located on its floor.

The telecommunications carriers (telephone company, cable TV company, etc.) should terminate their services in an Entrance Room. Consequently, the Entrance Room will typically house terminations of copper and optical fibre cables (coming from outside the building) along with electronic equipment owned by the carriers. This Entrance room may be part of the MT/ER, but if it is, the combined room should be constructed with a physical barrier (such as a wire cage), so that the equipment associated with the MT/ER is separated from the entrance room. The objective is to ensure that carrier-owned equipment (housed in the entrance room) is accessible to both the tenants and carriers, but that only the tenants will have access to facilities associated with the MT/ER. All of this is logical and the approach is similar to that followed by other utilities serving the building – water, electricity, gas, etc.

Unfortunately, in a building housing multiple government departments, each department tends to design the telecommunications infrastructure in the space that it occupies as if it were a stand-alone building. So the telecommunications infrastructure in a typical building housing multiple departments is designed from the perspective of the individual department; rather than as a service of the building. In such cases, the infrastructure provided resembles that in the illustration below:

Multi-tenant Building: Legacy Approach

This image describes the telecommunications infrastructure in a typical building house multiple departments designed from the perspective of individual departments. See link below for long description.

Long description of the Legacy Approach is available on a separate page.

Under this scenario, each department creates its own main cross-connect on one of the floors it occupies. Each department installs pathways (e.g. conduit, cable tray) and backbone cables connecting each of the floor telecom room to the department's main cross-connect. And each department establishes a point of demarcation with the facilities of the telecom carriers at a location on a floor it occupies – typically adjacent to the department's main cross-connect.

This works fine until there is some change. Should a department require services from a new telecom carrier, the new carrier typically must run its cables from the basement to the department's point of demarcation on its floor. In addition to being costly and inefficient, any time new vertical cables are run, typically firestopping must be removed and should be replaced. Frequently, firestopping is not replaced, thus creating a fire hazard.

Significant rearrangements are required should a department's space requirements change. For example, referring to the illustration "Multi-tenant Building: Legacy Approach", should "Tenant B" expand up one floor and occupy a floor previously occupied by "Tenant A", "Tenant B" will be unable to use the installed backbone cabling because it is routed to the main cross-connect of "Tenant A" on the floor above. So "Tenant B" will have to install new backbone cabling that is routed to its main cross-connect.

Should a new tenant ("Tenant C") occupy this floor instead, "Tenant C" will be unable to make use of any of the backbone cabling. "Tenant C" will create its own main cross-connect on its floor and also establish its own point of demarcation with the telecom common carriers serving it. So these carriers must now run cables from the basement to the point of demarcation of "Tenant C".

The situation is even worse if an individual floor is occupied by more than one department. In this case, each department typically constructs its own telecom room on that floor. As horizontal cables are typically distributed to work areas through pathways, a system of cable trays or conduits typically radiates from each floor telecom room to the work areas being served. Should space allocations on this floor change, the horizontal cabling and associated pathways (e.g. conduits, cable trays) will have to be re-arranged. One department may have to construct a new telecom room on its floor should space occupied by its telecom room be absorbed into the space being allocated to the other department.

Typical factors driving this approach are tradition, security concerns (about sharing space with another department), and a department simply exerting its "sphere of influence".

Multi-tenant Building: Holistic Approach

This image describes the typical holistic telecommunications infrastructure in a building housing multiple departments. See link below for long description.

Long description of the Holistic Approach is available on a separate page.

The solution to this problem is to design a single telecom system for the building, as one would for any other utility. This is illustrated in the drawing above: "Multi-Tenant Building: Holistic Approach".

This holistic system readily adapts to changes in space allocations between tenants or the addition of new tenants. It accommodates fluctuations between single and multiple occupancy of the building. It readily permits tenants to select their telecommunications common carriers and change them as required. It provides a system of telecom rooms and pathways that should endure until the building requires major renovations – provided, of course, that the telecom rooms and pathways are properly designed to meet the requirements of CSA and TIA/EIA telecommunications standards.