The rules reveal significant revisions to the Standards and include safeguards for the distribution of hazardous voltages over communications cabling – which CA says are “an important step, given the growing trend toward communications cables also being used to carry electrical power”.
New provisions also cater to the “explosive growth” of connected devices in Australian homes and businesses – ‘Smart Homes’ exploiting the ‘Internet of Things’.
The revised Standards are AS/CS S008 Requirements for Customer Cabling Products and AS/CA S009 Installation Requirements for Customer Cabling (Wiring Rules).
Communications Alliance says the Standards have been the backbone of the cabling industry in Australia for several decades, and the objective of the Standards is to set out the minimum requirements to ensure:
- the safety and integrity of a cabling installation in customer premises and of the telecommunications network to which it is connected; and
- that cabling products used in Australia are fit for purpose.
The Standards are enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and CA says the nation’s 70,000 registered cablers treat them as their cabling ‘Bible’.
John Stanton, CEO of Communications Alliance, said the review of the Standards was extensive and benefited from expert input from more than 20 stakeholder organisations and individuals across the communications and broader industry.
“The cabling sector touches the lives of every Australian and it is important that Standards remain ‘fit for purpose’, particularly as new technologies and connected solutions change the face of cabling and networks,” Stanton said.
The Working Committee responsible for the revision was chaired by Murray Teale from VTI Services and has drawn upon the most currently available cabling industry information to review and update the two Standards.
One of the fundamental aims of the Standards is to prevent the exposure of telecommunications service provider employees, cabling providers, customers or other persons to hazardous voltages.
“New uses of cabling, such as for the Internet of Things, saw the Working Committee address a range of topics" Teale said. “One was a fundamental change to the way the Standards reference new classifications of electrical power.”
The updated Standards include new and revised requirements in a number of key areas, including:
- a new three-stage classification system or ‘hazards-based standard engineering’ approach against potentially increasing risks from rising energy levels in cables, and safeguards between hazardous energy sources and body parts;
- new voltage and amperage limits on electrical circuits that can be carried over generic customer cabling;
- new requirements for communications cables that are also intended to be used to carry electrical power – for example to remotely powered devices such as wireless access points, surveillance cameras, smart lighting, digital signage, building management controllers and sensors;
- new requirements to assist cablers to select cabling products that are fit for purpose for a particular installation;
- additional rules for optical fibre systems to guard against laser hazards that can be associated with optical fibre systems;
- incorporation of elements of the National Construction Code relating to cable flammability and ‘fire-stopping’ to help inhibit the propagation of fire; and
- new rules for pit and access hole products, with the aim of improving public safety through a reduction in the number of trip hazards.