As promised (apart from being a little late) here’s an update on what’s going on in the International Standards body for “customer premises cabling”. This group goes under the snappy little title of ISO/IEC JTC1 SC25 WG3, which rolls of the tongue quite readily once you’ve practiced it a few hundred times!
So, what’s it all about this time?
“Customer Premises Cabling” is the cabling that allows computers, and increasingly other ‘connected devices’ to communicate in offices, factories, data centres and homes. Much of this cabling is of course copper, with most desktop connections being made with Cat5E, Cat6 etc. twisted pair. However, for larger premises, the building backbone and campus backbone cabling will all be fibre optic. Fibre optic cabling also has a big part to play in data centres, where enormous amounts of information are moved around. Industrial networks also use fibre extensively to support longer distance communications and to provide immunity to electromagnetic interference.
…and what’s my role?
As mentioned in my last blog, I am the liaison officer from the IEC standards committee that deals with fibre optic systems (SC86C) and this group. This means that I can apply my knowledge of fibre optic systems to help make sure that they will work over the cabling systems that are being standardised upon by this group. In fact, historically there has been a bit of conflict between these two groups, with some overlapping of standards, particularly with respect to testing of installed cabling (regarded as a ‘system’ by IEC). So part of my role is to try and harmonise these different testing standards.
I am also appointed as a UK expert, and so I support the UK’s position, particularly with respect to the fibre optics issues that arise. The UK and its team of experts has been very pro-active in driving through many of the major developments in premises cabling standards.
So, what happened?
It was the first time that this group had met in conjunction with the IEC General Meeting and this meant that several additional fibre optics experts were able to attend, staying on from the previous week’s TC86 meeting, including the chairman of TC86, Umberto Rossi. This gave the group a better balance as it is usually dominated by ‘copperheads’ and so fibre optics issues are often sidelined and given little airtime. But at this meeting some good progress was made on fibre optics issues and interesting decisions made about the future directions of standards…
Key developments in the optical fibre ad-hoc meeting.
At last, a full revision of the standard (14763-3) for testing fibre optic cabling in premises networks is underway – the UK have been pushing for this for several years.
The work done by the UK FIA on Reference Grade Terminations was reviewed.
It was agreed that there was no requirement for the total Optical Return Loss to be specified or tested for optical fibre links and channels in premises cabling (although connector reflectance is specified).
The UK proposal to remove the Optical Fibre channel classification scheme was adopted, although implementation of this decision will take some time.
OM1 grade of multimode fibre performance (usually associated with 62.5/125 multimode fibre) will be removed from the main part of the standards and relegated to history (as an informative annex).
There was a poignant moment at the start of the meeting as a minute’s silence was observed in memory of Stuart Reeves of ADC Krone, who was taken by cancer and sadly passed away on August 1st. Stuart had played a very active role in this working group, faithfully recording the minutes and documenting everything, including at times some very heated exchanges. His diplomacy, attention to detail and mastery of the English language were much appreciated by the group. The challenge of recording the minutes of this, often lively, group has been picked up by another Brit – best of luck to James Withey of Nexans!
As ever, if you have any questions or comments on the wonderful world of standards, please leave your comments here or get in touch with me Richard.Ednay@ott.co.uk