The residential market has been up and down. Now that business has slowed, it may be time to start positioning yourself to participate in that market’s future growth. If you choose to do so, there are a few organizations and standards you should monitor.

BICSI plans to update its Residential Network Cabling Manual, which originally came out in 2002. It needs information on installing and testing cabling for broadband and satellite services, security systems, wireless options for the home, and home-automation products. Since BICSI is an authorized -standards-development organization, it is starting a new residential installation standard that will be a “how to” manual. The development process for the standard will involve getting installers together to agree on best practices that need to be written. A developing curriculum (DACUM) will be written first.

DACUM writing employs a process used worldwide to create and update training and education programs. Experts determine the curriculum. When the installers are the experts and they write the DACUM, it is closer to what the worker actually needs to know to accomplish the job. BICSI also has set criteria for choosing the installers by specialties/skills. BICSI’s DACUM may be completed soon.

BICSI had planned a residential cabling forum. Instead, however, a group of manufacturers is establishing a forum to disseminate information on home technologies to architects, builders, installers, contractors, etc., and ultimately to homeowners and consumers. The first planned project is to educate industry participants who do not fully understand coaxial cable and correct installation.

TIA addendum

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is developing a residential broadband performance standard (Addendum 1 to TIA 570-B, titled Additional Requirements for Broadband Coaxial Cabling). This is important because the broadband industry is switching from analog to digital on Feb. 18, 2009.

TIA’s new coaxial cabling addendum will include the specs, requirements, recommendations and field-testing procedures for 75-ohm broadband coaxial cabling (cables, cords and connecting hardware) for CATV, satellite television and other applications in single residences or multitenant residential buildings.

The following are six points in the TIA addendum (TIA 570-B.1) that will help with residential installations:

1. CABLING TOPOLOGY: Broadband coaxial cabling includes the cable, cord and connecting hardware. That cabling extends from the entrance facility to a telecommunications outlet/connector or, if the installation is in a multitenant building, out to each residential space. It’s called auxiliary disconnect outlet (ADO) cabling (see Figure 1).

2. 75-OHM COAX (OUTLET) CABLES: TIA includes Series 6 (RG6) dual-, tri- or quad-shield; Series 11 (RG11) dual-, tri- or quad-shield. This addendum does not include Series 59 outlet cables for baseband closed-circuit television (CCTV).

3. COAX (OUTLET) CABLE LIMIT: Lengths should not exceed 90 meters (295 ft.). Series 6 coaxial outlet cables should not be longer than 46 meters (150 ft.). Broadband coax cables over 46 meters (150 ft.) should be made using Series 11 cable.

4. TELECOMMUNICATIONS OUTLET/CONNECTOR: The outlet/connector for Series 6 coax has to be the F-type male connector as specified in ANSI/Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) 123. ANSI/SCTE 124 specifies Series 11 coax (see Figure 2).

5. PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE F-TYPE MALE CONNECTORS: Series 6 cables must meet the mechanical requirements of ANSI/SCTE 123. F-type male connectors for Series 11 cable and for miniature coaxial cable must meet the mechanical requirements of ANSI/SCTE 124. F-type female feed-thru connectors must meet the physical requirements of ANSI/SCTE 02.

Because the F-type male connector for Series 6 cable uses the cable’s center conductor as a connector contact, the SCTE refers to it as a feed-thru connector. This should not be confused with the F-type female feed-thru connector described above. TIA also recommends the use of compression-type male connectors.

6. BROADBAND COAXIAL CABLING LINK FIELD TEST PROCEDURES: Field test procedures for broadband coaxial cabling performance are not yet confirmed. The test link for broadband coaxial cabling consists of the cable with mated connectors at both ends (see Figure 3).

TIA makes changes

TIA 570-B.1 Addendum recently underwent critical changes. Deletions included the to-be-determined items from tables and the insertion-loss formula for Series 6 and 11 cabling because the test numbers were final. The committee compared TIA specs and formulas for insertion loss for Series 6 and 11 coax with SCTE’s specs. By adjusting the high and low number, the committee improved satellite service.

The notes at the bottom of the tables for maximum insertion loss of coaxial cabling were corrected. They now read, “insertion loss values for frequencies above 1,000 MHz are for cabling intended for satellite television systems only [and not] for cable television systems only.”

TIA added a section for signal-splitting devices that states they are commonly used to divide the signal in coaxial cabling systems and to see proposed SCTE IPS SP 206 for information on insertion loss and port-to-port isolation of these devices.

At press time, the addendum was still in the balloting process with the hope of approval in June 2008.

TIA referred readers to SCTE specs to explain why splitters fell outside the scope of this performance standard, and the specs on splitters can be downloaded for free from the SCTE Web site.

Perfect strangers

TIA and SCTE perform similar, yet different, work. TIA addressed some recent SCTE concerns by explaining what TIA does and what the problem appears to be. The purpose of ANSI/TIA-570-B, a standard that allows design, installation and testing of a broadband coaxial cabling infrastructure before service activation, is to ensure that cabling is capable of performance to current video-delivery specifications when it is included as part of a video or broadband distribution system.

However, the problem is the current standards and practices—which generally require connection to a video or broadband service, such as a CATV plant, direct broadcast service (DBS) or broadcast antenna—cannot be applied to cabling that has not been connected or provisioned for service.

For example, the TIA standard applies when a broadband coaxial cabling system is installed by an installation subcontractor, and the owner or prospective service providers need to determine if the cabling has been correctly installed. They also need to determine if it will meet the requirements of a prospective service or technology prior to accepting the installed system.

SCTE had more concerns about what was outside TIA’s scope. The coaxial cabling link defined by TIA 570-B includes only cable and connectors. For testing purposes, each link needs to independently meet the requirements of TIA 570-B. Testing of the overall system, from the origination point (head end) to the destination (TV set, receiver or set-top box), will vary depending on the type of service to be activated.

Of course, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must be considered. FCC Part 76.605 applied only to energized video distribution systems and, specifically, to analog RF video services. For digital cable systems and DBS systems, the receiver or set-top box dictated output levels, and analog RF video signals might never appear in these systems.

The TIA intended the standard to verify that the system being measured would deliver signals meeting FCC requirements, where applicable, when it was connected to a service that provided such signals.

What’s next?

Many opportunities for technical knowledge and business development exist. Maybe you will want to become involved with developing the home technology forum. Maybe you’ll want to work on the new BICSI Residential Cabling Standard or with updating the Residential Network Cabling Manual. You may want to consider looking into installation/design work for new homes that aren’t selling. Whatever you feel is appropriate for your electrical contracting business will only add to your expertise and point to you as feeling the industry’s pulse.

For more information about the Home Technology Forum or the TIA broadband coaxial cabling addendum, e-mail John Pryma at John@Genesiscable.com, and for information on the BICSI Residential Cabling Standard or their Residential Network Cabling Manual, e-mail Bob Jensen at Robert.Jensen@flukenetworks.com.

MICHELSON, president of Jackson, Calif.-based Business Communication Services and publisher of the BCS Reports, is an expert in TIA/EIA performance standards. Contact her at www.bcsreports.com or randm@volcano.net.

(Ed. Note: Figures available upon request.)