Broadband services have come a long way. The services expanded from simply high-speed Internet access to more entertainment options and voice features over Internet protocol. Homeowners may want to subscribe to some of these services. The problem is their infrastructure may need upgrading, which creates a huge opportunity for the electrical contractor. However, the contractor will need know how. Luckily, the first and only performance standard is being developed—Addendum 1 to the Telecommunications Industry Association’s TIA 570-B Residential Cabling Standard for “Coax Cabling Requirements,” which will guide the EC into being the perfect person for the job.

Before going into the standard or types of services available today, let’s review how important broadband services are becoming. On Feb. 6, 2007, Wal-Mart announced in USA Today that it was launching a new service for movies and TV shows. The programs were to become available for purchase and download on the big box store’s Web site on the same day the DVDs are released. TV episodes would be available the day after they aired. A cost was associated with each DVD; consumers needed a high-speed connection and the downloading would take about 45 minutes for the average movie. The downloads could go to a computer with Windows XP or Vista and to some portable devices using Microsoft’s digital rights system. The downloads also could be backed up as many as three times, including to a DVD, but the backup DVD would not play in a conventional DVD player.

The next day, USA Today reported on a new download service that would go straight to digital video recorders (DVRs). TiVo and Amazon.com were partnering to enable customers to buy and download movies and TV shows to their TiVo DVR for home viewing. This enabled the customer to do more than just download to a PC. The TiVo subscriber would need to connect their DVR to a broadband home network. Both of these moves have created additional consumer drive to sign on to broadband services. But what does this mean?

Performance standard and infrastructure.

With a need for standardizing residential broadband installations, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is now putting one together. The first and major performance standard currently in development is Addendum 1 to the Telecommunications Industry Association’s TIA 570-B Residential Cabling Standard for “Coax Cabling Requirements.” An addendum carries the same weight as the standard to which it relates, and this one began development in 2006 and has progressed significantly. It’s a one-of-a-kind standard, and many of the specifications have yet to be tested and proven. The information will be a compilation of joint work by the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), the Satellite Broadcasting Communication Association (SBCA) and TIA’s TR 41 and 42 subcommittees. By following this new standard, contractors will be able to install the best-performing infrastructure in and around their customers’ homes.

The TIA standard for Coax Cabling for the Residence (TIA-570-B, Addendum 1) will continue to move forward in 2007 and probably will be issued in 2008. It will cover requirements and recommendations for 75 ohm broadband coaxial cabling, cables, cords and connecting hardware to support cable TV, satellite TV and any other applications in the residence as part of a telecommunications infrastructure as in TIA-570-B. It also will cover transmission, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and mechanical (physical) requirements for cabling, cables and connectors, cabling installation, connector termination procedures and field-testing procedures.

The TIA standard will explain the coax outlet cabling specs, which apply to horizontal cabling. Coax is different than copper, so the distances vary according to series type. Series 6 coax outlet cables should be no more than 46 meters. Distances more than 46 meters should use Series 11 coax outlet cables. “Recognized Cables” for 75 ohm coax outlet cables are Series 6 (RG6) and Series 11 (RG11) dual-, tri- or quad-shield.

The maximum length of each outlet cable is not to exceed 90 meters. The telecom outlet/connector is the F-type male connector mated to an F-type female feed-through connector. The standard will cover those specs in a later section. And, for more information about connecting at the distribution device, it will state each Series 6 or 11 coax cable has to be terminated with an F-type male connector.

Coax backbone cabling for 75 ohm coaxial backbone cables are Series 6 (commonly known as RG6) dual-, tri- or quad-shield; Series 11 (RG11) dual-, tri- or quad-shield; and hard-line coaxial (distribution cable). The coax cable terminated at a distribution device has to be terminated with an F-type male connector. The Series 6 backbone cables should not exceed 46 meters; Series 11 backbone cables should not exceed 100 meters. Each Series 6 or 11 cable has to be terminated with an F-type male connector.

The standard goes into performance specs for the coax cable for attenuation, return loss, egress (leakage) and ingress (susceptibility). It also will describe what physical requirements the F-type male connectors have to meet and that the F-type female feed-through connectors have to meet the physical requirements of ANSI/SCTE 02 1997.

A standard for testing for electromagnetic compatibility has yet to be agreed on or included. Since there was not a field test for this, TIA wanted to put this as a required Annex to the Addendum. Other yet-to-be-agreed-upon standards follow:

  • Testing for EMC 
  • The distance spec of 150 feet for Series 6 coax plus connectors to equal a permanent link in the “horizontal” 
  • More satellite requirements 
  • A topology drawing (see previous page for my rough illustration of where coax cabling could be used in a residential unit) 
  • Storing of coax cable—It has been described as having to adhere to the minimum bend radius and for users to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and if no instructions are available, the minimum bend radius would be 10 times the cable outside diameter under “no-load” conditions.
  • Certification, using this addendum
  • An annex on “Background Information for Coaxial Cabling Requirements” that would contain coax test specs that were required or suggested
  • A pulling tension spec 
  • A temperature range where the coax cable can be installed
  • Distances for different coax cable types and the reasons why—In the field, RG11 coax runs more than 150–200 feet; RG6 coax is for less than 150 feet. However, people use RG6 coax because it is less expensive. The cable used depends on the attenuation desired and length of the link.
  • Bend radius specs because the developers feel that’s why people will want this specification. The specs will relate to the quality of the cable and the size of the box/hardware. That is information users need to know when purchasing the hardware.

In addition, there are different types of service providers. A multiple system operator (MSO) describes a company that owns and operates two or more cable TV systems. Some examples are Comcast Cable Communications, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems. Cable systems are another type that are localized communications networks that distribute television, Internet and telephone services by means of coaxial cables and/or fiber optics. Some examples are Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems Corp, Insight Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp, Time Warner Cable and Cox Cable Communications. There also are cable program/TV networks. Some examples are Discovery Health Channel, ESPN, CNN, Fox Movie Channel, NASA Television and the Lifetime Movie Network.

Look into the future of this industry. You will see it is growing rapidly, and you may want to be involved. From 2001 to the fourth quarter of 2006, residential cable high-speed data subscribers increased from 5.5 million to 28.9 million. During the same time period, residential telephony customers grew from 1.3 million to 9.5 million. As of December 2006, there were 65,600,000 basic cable subscribers, and the estimated annual cable revenue for 2007 is $74.7 billion.

This definitely is a part of the contracting industry for which you should prepare, if you haven’t already, because coax + broadband services = what the customer wants. EC

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.