How to Master the Art of Cabling

With new technology applications sprouting every day, resources such as BICSI can help your techs keep their skills up to date.

In recent years, we have seen accelerated applications of wireless technology. That being said we must not forget cabling, the technology that truly built this industry and is still the backbone (pardon the pun) of most minor and major systems.

Additionally, with new technology applications sprouting every day, the skills and knowledge demands on cabling technicians has never been greater. However, those who seek out these exciting challenges will achieve career-building rewards — and you’ll find some great resources toward that end this month.

But first, a short yet relevant personal anecdote. My first true tech job was as a cabling installer in the 1970s for a small contractor retrofitting a completely new key phone system in a hospital. At that time Bell leased the system and cabling.

The contractor’s strategy was to install a new working system in parallel and toss out the leased one. Needless to say the contractor failed and went bankrupt. They overlooked one minor detail, doubling cable in existing conduits and raceways failed big time.

You’ve heard the old saying, “You can’t put 10 pounds of [stuff ] in a five-pound bag”? I learned quickly what worked and didn’t; lessons that I grew to appreciate even more as my career continued.

I also learned to appreciate the rules, such as conduit fill ratios, that we now have in our electrical code. Oh by the way, at the end of this failed project I did receive a bonus — two bounced payroll checks on Christmas. Another early career lesson for this budding tech.

BICSI Group Offers Abundant Opportunities

When it comes to cabling, a continued great resource is BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Service Int’l, headquartered in Tampa, Fla. The organization has been around since 1973, and in its eyes the art of cabling is referred to as information and communications technology (ICT) and covers voice, data, electronic safety & security, project management and audio visual areas.

BICSI serves 23,000 ICT professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These people take cabling very seriously and deservedly have gained the respect of security industry and associated trade professionals.

Underscoring their efforts they offer credential programs such as Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD), Registered Telecommunications Project Manager (RTPM), Data Center Design Consultant (DCDC), and Outside Plant Designer (OSP). Techs have not been left out.

In the BICSI Cabling Installation Programs curriculum they include Installer 1 (INST1), Installer 2, Copper (INSTC), Installer 2, Optical Fiber (INSTF) and Technician (TECH).

Which professional title designation do you want after your name? (Here’s a tip for military veterans, too: BICSI exams may be eligible for GI Bill reimbursement.)

I recently attended the Winter BICSI conference in Orlando (why else come to Florida in the winter?) and had a chance to catch up on some of the latest happenings, and do I have a treat for you. If you could not make the BICSI trip do not fret. BICSI has generously brought an entire day of important conference sessions to you via the Internet.

Three major sessions were streamed and recorded so that you can watch them for free right here, in the comfort of your recliner. Here’s a glance at the available recordings:

■“Are You Ready for IoT to Completely Alter How Buildings Operate?” — Pook-Ping Yao of Optigo Networks takes you through the growth of the Internet of Things and how it will impact the ICT industry.

■“BICSI Annual Membership Meeting — A Look Ahead” — Learn how BICSI is serving its members and the ICT industry, and what’s on tap for the near future as President Brian Ensign and President-elect Jeff Beavers address the membership.

■“The Serious Safety and Performance Implications of Counterfeit Cables Installed in Building Network Infrastructure” — Todd Harpel of the Communications Cable & Connectivity Association details how the proliferation of counterfeit structured cabling, patch cords and connectivity components creates potentially devastating fire-safety and network performance consequences. Plus, he illustrates how failure liabilities fall on contractors, installers and building owners.

Tool Tip

One of the best ways to time/date document existing and new cabling systems is with a high resolution 360° photo and video camera. It is tough to get down into cabling tunnels and hard-to-reach equipment rooms and then record everything onsite.

Take great photos with equipment like the YI 360 VR camera from YI Technology. Then review in detail at your office. It may also lead you to a movement toward virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) training applications thanks to various built-in video processing and sharing technologies.


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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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