Friday, 22 March 2019 02:37

New rules proposed for telecoms customer premises cabling, wiring

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Proposed new rules for telecommunications customer premises cabling products and wiring have been released for public consultation by the communications industry lobby group, Communications Alliance.

CA says proposed revisions include safeguards for the distribution of hazardous voltages over communications cabling – “an important step, given the growing trend toward communications cables also being used to carry electrical power”.

New provisions also cater to what it says is the explosive growth of connected devices in Australian homes and businesses – "Smart Homes" exploiting the "Internet of Things".

The revised draft standards are AS/CS S008 Requirements for Customer Cabling Products and AS/CA S009 Installation Requirements for Customer Cabling (Wiring Rules).

The standards have been the backbone of the cabling industry in Australia for several decades and the standards aim 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 and CA says the nation’s 70,000 registered cablers treat them as their cabling "Bible".

In 2017, Communications Alliance invited representatives from the industry and the ACMA to review the standard and to verify whether it continues to fulfil its purpose under the regulatory compliance arrangements.

Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said the review process was extensive and benefitted 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,” he 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.

CA notes that 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.

The Draft Standards propose 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 installations;
  • 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.                                       

The draft Standards are available from the public comment area of the Communications Alliance website, with comments on the draft to be submitted by a closing date of 24 May.

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