Stay up to date on the latest in intelligent building solutions, infrastructure, and innovations from Paige Datacom Solutions.
  • Industry News
  • 04.01.2021

OSDP: The Only Secure Access Control Option

OSDP: The Only Secure Access Control Option

 Access control technology has come a long way from the very first method of  “Knock, knock!”  “Who’s there?” to  becoming an integrated network application within an intelligent building.  In the early 1970’s access control moved to being electronically controlled, but still somewhat siloed with the primary function to create barriers from unauthorized persons.  With the introduction a smartphone in 2007, security moved to being controlled and monitored on a remote device, connected to the Internet. Access control systems included both mechanical and electronic hardware devices from basic physical keys and door locks spanning to advanced access control systems encompassing IP features such as biometrics.  As we return to our places of work, a new purpose of access control is emerging to include promoting wellness of inhabitants in addition to safety. Today almost every commercial and residential building employ some sort of electronic access control system and is a collaboration between IT and physical security.

According to ANSI/BICSI-007-2020 standard, “Information Communication Technology Design and Implementation Practices for Intelligent Buildings and Premises,” the components of an access control system are classified into the following levels:

  • Level 1 – Central equipment processing, recording, software, and database
  • Level 2 – Controllers for intelligent field processing (e.g., data gathering panel)
  • Level 3 – Peripheral devices (e.g., card reader, lock, door position switch)
  • Level 4 – Credentials (e.g., cards, fobs, biometrics, personal identification numbers [PINs], passwords) 

All of these can be integrated into the data network to provide a complete integrated access control system. Connectivity to edge devices, such as peripheral devices allow sensors to monitor and control passage through entryways. These devices are classified into these categories:

  • Door contacts—used for monitoring an open or closed door.
  • Readers
  • Electrified door hardware
  • Request-to-exit devices (REX)

COVID-19 also seems to be accelerating the shift in access control to become mobile and cloud-based solutions.  However, the merging of physical and logical access control systems still face many challenges that impede the journey to a truly digital infrastructure. Designing and implementing a network-based access control system includes assuring that the installed infrastructure utilizes the most secure cabling with advanced security and IP communication capabilities, in addition to being able to update and integrate with other devices.  

OSDP as the New Gold Standard for Access Control

The Security Industry Association (SIA) industry introduced the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) as the essential standard for access control communications to enable digital access control features with advanced data encryption.

It’s easy to see understand why OSDP has become the security industry’s gold standard replacing old Wiegand-based systems and wiring protocols. Prior to OSDP there was a disconnect between the multiple device components including the readers, hardware, door contacts and controllers. OSDP has advanced functionality and provides a roadmap to future access control devices. 

Wiegand dominated the access control industry for decades but hasn’t kept up to today’s requirements for many critical functions such as secure encryption, which is vital to protect against intercepting transmissions between proximity cards and readers.  Wiegand offers only one-way communication, which becomes vulnerable to “sniffers” and hackers, whereas OSDP has bi-directional communications and supports AES-128 encryption, as used in federal government applications.  This prevents hackers from intercepting data transfers. With bi-direction communication, access control systems are continuously monitored to protect against failed, missing, malfunctioning or tampered readers. OSDP utilizes the RS-485 protocol for the cabling and facilitates longer distances and is more robust to mask interference.

There are even more reasons to make a move to OSDP. Wiegand readers require homerun pulls from the control panel to each peripheral device. OSDP has a concept called “multi-drop” that allows devices to daisy chain directly from the controller to the reader and then to a secondary reader and so on.  This reduces the number of ports on the controller, as well as the number of individual cable runs, saving on cabling and installation time.   OSDP requires as few as two pairs compared to 6-12 (or more) conductors used in Wiegand.  In addition, OSDP works with biometric devices and allows for remote configurations and upgrades, while Wiegand employs time-consuming workarounds. 

Composite OSDP Access Control Cable by Paige


Connecting with Paige OSDP Cable

Recently Paige introduced a family of OSDP composite cables for today’s most advanced access control systems utilizing the OSDP protocol. The low-capacitance card reader component allows for distances to extend out to 4,000’ versus being limited to 500’ with Wiegand. In addition, to having fewer wires OSDP leverages the bi-directional communication to allow for simplified remote upgrades and configurations not possible with Wiegand systems. Because these are based on OSDP standards, they can easily integrate with other building systems like video or gunshot detection.   

The Paige OSDP reader cable consists of 2 pairs of 24 AWG stranded bare copper cable with an overall tinned copper shield and a low-smoke PVC plenum-rated jacket. Meeting RS-485 communication protocols this cable is available in 1000’ lengths. 

The composite cable consists of four components that are cabled together with an overall yellow jacket. The cable is rated to a 75°C operating temperature and meets UL-444 plenum rating and is available in lengths of 500’ and 1000’. Cables can be spliced together to extend the distance. The individual cable components are color-coded to allow easy application identification. The components include:

  • Component 1: Reader - Orange inner jacket, shielded with 24 AWG/2 conductors; 
  • Component 2: Contacts - White inner jacket, unshielded with 22 AWG/4 conductors;
  • Component 3: REX/Power - Blue inner jacket, shielded 18 AWG/4 conductors;
  • Component 4 - Lock Power or AUX: Gray inner jacket, unshielded 18 AWG/4 conductors.

If you want to make sure your access control system is integrated into your intelligent building to deliver the highest security capacities, contact Paige:


  • Industry News
  • 02.15.2021

How ANM Transformed an Airport's IT Infrastructure

This case study explains how Advanced Network Management (ANM) simplified the IT infrastructure for an International Airport while reducing costs and eliminating potential points of failure.

The Situation

ANM, an IT consultancy based in Albuquerque, NM was asked to participate in a large security system upgrade project at a major airport in the Western US.


ANM’s role was to upgrade the security camera infrastructure of approximately 700 cameras at the airport. Since higher resolution, PTZ cameras were being installed, it would also be necessary to upgrade most of the cabling that supports these new cameras. All the existing IP cameras had been on Cat5 and Cat5E and many of the original cameras at the airport were analog and using coax cabling and copper power conductors.


Like most airports, there was an immense, sprawling layout that would require numerous long-distance cable runs. In many cases, the location where the camera was needed would easily exceed the typical Category 6 cable distance of 100 meters to the nearest IDF or network closet. 

The Solution

John Pace, ANM’s Project Manager and his team considered various options for the airport project. The initial plan that was considered would utilize fiber, along with copper conductors to power remote media converters. However, the client’s IT staff preferred not having new devices placed across the facility and Pace said they “did not want to have a scenario where devices could fail out in the field and would have to be located and dealt with by their staff at a later date.”

John Pace then discovered an alternative solution - GameChanger Cable from Paige. And for this installation, it did in fact, prove to be a game changer. 

With GameChanger Cable, ANM found an easy, fast, and cost-effective way to take networking infrastructure beyond the 100-meter limit. With increased gauge size, carefully designed twisting and specialty materials, GameChanger is optimized for long distance Ethernet applications. It is UL verified to deliver 1 Gb/s performance and PoE+ over 200 meters. UL has also verified it to deliver 10 Mb/s over 850 feet.

As John Pace described, “GameChanger turned out to be a very viable cost-effective alternative to running fiber and media converters, in the instances where the cabling requirements exceeded 328 feet for a network drop.” He added, “The GameChanger was a really good option from a cost-effectiveness standpoint and the ability to eliminate any kind of media converters or signal boosters or anything in-line on these cable runs.”

Click to download the full case study

 John Pace shelved the original plan to use fiber as “obviously that was cost prohibitive compared to the GameChanger.” He added, “In addition to the cost factor with the fiber and the media converters, we avoided adding additional points of failure into the system by being able to use GameChanger. So that was a win-win for us and the airport.”

After successfully using GameChanger Cable in the airport, John Pace feels it can be “a perfect fit” for all kinds of other projects, especially those where “their infrastructure is already established, and their budgets are limited.” He sees it as potentially an ideal solution for the numerous projects they do on school campuses, and he says that GameChanger “will be in our arsenal of solutions to these kinds of long-distance problems.” 

About ANM

ANM is ranked by CRN as one of the fastest growing technology solutions providers in the U.S. It specializes in the fastest-growing areas of IT, including enterprise networking, cloud, remote workforce solutions, collaboration, security, cabling, and audio visual. ANM was founded in 1994 and maintains its headquarters in Albuquerque, NM and has additional locations throughout the western United States.  

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  • Industry News
  • 01.05.2021

4 Use Cases for Testing Long Haul Twisted Pair Cabling

4 Use Cases for Testing Long Haul Twisted Pair Cabling

Many cable install professionals are under the false impression that a cable tester only needs to verify twisted pair copper up to -- but not exceeding -- 100 meters (328 feet) in length. While it is true that most two- and four-pair 802.3 Ethernet standards do indeed have a maximum distance limitation at the 100-meter mark, there are plenty of other uses and standards that require a tester to verify proper cable operation well beyond 100 meters. This includes cabling projects for the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial IoT (IIoT) and many surveillance camera deployments over twisted pair copper. In this article, we're going to point out four different real-world use cases where a cable test unit must be capable of validating copper runs up to 1000 meters.

1. Intelligent building control systems

A major part of the IoT movement is to make the buildings we work in smarter. Newly built constructions are receiving intelligent control systems right out of the gate. Older buildings are being retrofitted with similar systems that meter, monitor and automate many building functions. These technologies can be used to better control energy costs of electrical and mechanical systems while also automating previously manual processes. Ultimately, intelligent building controls provide the precise HVAC and lighting/power needs when and where occupants need them while conserving these resources everywhere else. 

The problem is, many intelligent building control system components are dispersed throughout large building campuses. At the same time, they also require constant and fully connected communications. Many leverage the use of serial interfaces over twisted pair copper as a way to allow long haul connections to connect building control components located hundreds or thousands of feet away. Thus, once your business clients begin implementing these types of intelligent systems, expect the need to run and verify twisted-pair cabling well beyond 100 meters.

2. IoT sensors using single pair Ethernet (SPE)

Example 10Base-T1L 1000m (802.3cg) Test

 Example 10Base-T1L 1000m (802.3cg) TestThere are any number of new IoT sensors that are hitting the enterprise market in 2019 and beyond. Examples include sensors that measure temperature, humidity, smoke, pressure, acceleration and chemical levels. Sensors can be used to monitor areas that demand consistent temperature/humidity levels such as in a data center. Other uses are to identify objects/people in proximity to a sensor and send alerts when the object or person moves. Sensors can also be used to rapidly alert building occupants of a dangerous event such as a fire, gas/carbon monoxide/chemical leak or other dangerous environmental situation.

One interesting aspect of these types of sensors is that they typically don’t require even close to 1 Gbps or higher throughput rates that common 802.3 Ethernet data protocols provide. That said, IoT sensor deployments do often require cable runs that extend far beyond common 10/100/1000BASE-T distance limitations of 100 meters. That’s why many are looking at Single pair Ethernet (SPE) for future IoT deployments. SPE is a relatively new standard (IEEE 802.3cg) that allows for cable runs up to 1000 meters using only a single pair of Category 5e cabling or better. Runs can extend this far while also providing data speeds of 10Mbps. 

 Expect IoT sensor manufacturers to begin adopting the SPE standard in their hardware to further increase ease of deployment within large buildings, office campuses or even entire municipalities.

3. Manufacturing and warehouse automation

Manufacturing plants and warehouses are regularly being revamped with the latest in smart assembly lines and robotics. These technologies help to decrease process times, reduce outages, eliminate waste, and increase safety protections. This is often accomplished using intelligent monitoring, augmented reality and advanced analytics. The problem is, all these platforms, sensors and robots must be centrally connected. This often means that twisted pair cabling used to connect these types of systems will far exceed 100 meters. While this has been the case for manufacturing/warehouse environments for years, the need for long cable runs is only going to increase.

4. CCTV deployments

The demand for closed circuit television (CCTV) and other security control and surveillance systems is growing at a rapid rate. The reason for this is the fact that one can now deploy high-quality and high-definition surveillance cameras at a fraction of the cost compared to even a decade ago. Thus, to ensure the safety of employees, partners and guests within a building or campus – as well as to provide insurance policy protections against robberies, thefts and frauds – CCTV is a wise investment. That said, many CCTV cameras must be installed at considerable distances away from the central network. Cameras are often positioned at remote gates and entrances, building outposts and on rooftops. Thus, many manufacturers offer the ability to stream CCTV feeds over twisted pair cabling up to 1000 meters in length.

Is your test equipment capable of verifying operational status of cabling up to 1000 meters?

Cable test equipment manufactures only guarantee their test results up to a certain distance limitation. In many cases, this distance is far below what you might need given today’s demand for long haul twisted pair runs. In order to prepare for the increase in long haul runs, be sure to have test tool like the AEM CV100 which can verify twisted pair runs up to 1 KM in length. The CV100’s standard autotest supports testing twisted-pair cabling up to 600 meters. If you require testing beyond this length, there is a special test mode for cables that range between 500 and 1000 meters.

Long Cable Setting for 500m to 1km Testing

 Showing GamerChanger Cable Type inSetup



Many field test units on the market today aren’t capable of testing this far. Considering the growing need for building control systems IoT sensors, IIoT and CCTV long cable runs, long haul verification tests are definitely a function of the CV100 test tool that you’ll put to good use.

  • Industry News
  • 12.10.2020

Superspreader for PoE Lighting

Superspreader for PoE Lighting

Powering light through the data IP network using Category cable, instead of hazardous 120V electrical systems is creating a superspreader of PoE technology throughout all buildings and outdoor applications.  With the emergence of smart/intelligent buildings, PoE lighting is on forefront of driving converged building application advancements. LEDs are inherently DC, so installation is greatly simplified by eliminating separate power and control wiring.  And because LEDs require little energy and are powered through Ethernet cables, they easily create a connected system providing many benefits over traditional independent ballast/lamp systems, but can also present new challenges when it comes to the design of the cabling topology.

Many IT players are designing and installing LED PoE-powered lighting systems as part of the intelligent building infrastructure to reap numerous benefits. From commercial office and data center employees to retail shoppers, from hotel guests to patients at a hospital, building occupants are demanding a more customized, comfortable, and smart building experience. Smart and connected LED-based lighting is a key part of the picture with associated control systems which account for HVAC systems, air quality, and more.  Building owners and managers are realizing that the implementation of a PoE lighting system allows numerous energy efficient and sustainability benefits such as: installation savings through low-voltage cabling (vs. electrical products and installation); LED averages 70% more efficient cost savings than fluorescent or HID lamps;  UL924 compliancy which eliminates a separate emergency lighting network;  and can be monitored and scheduled through an integrated management system which also optimizes work space. In addition, without line-voltage connections, light fixtures and sensors can be more easily added, reconfigured and upgraded.

PoE lighting is gaining ground and providing growth opportunities for all IT designers and integrators. According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the global PoE LED lighting market will rise from a value of 192.3 million units in 2018 to 544.8 million units by the end of 2026. The forecast period is set from 2019 to 2026 and the market for PoE LED lighting is anticipated to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.1%. 

PoE Safety Ratings

With the ratification of IEEE P802.3bt which recognizes 60W (Type 3) and 90W (Type 4) of power (PoE) to run over twisted pair cabling, there is growing concern of excessive heat generation due to additional current (amperage) running through the cable. Bundled cable is especially vulnerable to heat build-up.  As a result, UL created a certification called “LP”  (Limited Power) which includes a test procedure for determining how many amps a conductor can safely accommodate.  Some cable manufacturers have submitted their twisted-pair cables to be tested and earn that rating.  

An alternative to LP cables is to refer to the ampacity chart, which was published by the National Electrical Code® (NEC)  in Section 725 of the 2017 NFPA 70®. This chart is based on allowable amps for  each conductor’s current carrying capacity at 60W or above, and is determined by the cable’s mechanical (operating) temperature, gauge size (AWG) of the conductors and bundle size.  This table is solely based on an ambient temperature of 30° C (86° F).  As expressed in the chart, the larger the AWG, the better performing the cable and the greater the bundles for higher wattage.  Note that a 4-pair cable constructed with 22 AWG conductors, such as the GameChanger Cable™ from Paige Datacom would be recommended as the best choice to safely transmit over 60W and with a maximum bundle size of 192 cables without having to carry the LP rating .

 System Architecture

There are different architecture designs for PoE LED lighting.  PoE lighting systems contain multiple components connected through Ethernet cabling: the PoE switch — the power supply for the PoE lighting systems — provides the needed voltage for the lighting system ; LED luminaires (such as troffers); wall controllers and ceiling sensors.  The wall controllers are wall switches and are usually directly connected to the sensors which sense occupancy, daylight harvesting or ambient temperature.

There are two industry standards that provide well-defined guidelines for the design, planning and installation of PoE LED lighting systems as an integral part of an intelligent building infrastructure — TIA-862-B-2016 Structured Cabling Infrastructure Standard for Intelligent Building Systems and ANSI/BICSI-007-2020 standard, Information Communication Technology Design and Implementation Practices for Intelligent Buildings and Premises.  These two documents complement each other in the IP cable installation planning of intelligent building applications.  Specific content in the TIA standard provides guidelines for cabling types, topology, design and installation best practices and test procedures for any size building or premise. The BICSI standard leverages the TIA requirements but gets more granular with best practices for planning spaces, topology and media selection for the specific building applications, including a detailed chapter on LED lighting.  In addition, the BICSI standard recognizes that in many instances, the cabling infrastructure and cabling selection of the horizontal cabling may vary as it should be planned to incorporate the deployment of numerous building systems that may utilize an IP network.  In addition, BICSI-007 recognizes that some building systems may require cabling other than balanced twisted-pair or optical fiber because of system and application architecture or manufacturer requirements. In fact, primary decisions for cabling type are often based on manufacturer requirements, signal type, distance and location, power requirement, and longevity of building occupancy.

Depending on the cabling requirements of the lighting manufacturer, the horizontal cable can run in a star topology from the telecommunications room (TR) directly to the lighting (also known as point-to-point).  However, some lighting manufacturers incorporate a node (or a gateway device) where the Ethernet cable runs from the switch (either an endspan in the TR or a midspan within the horizontal run or housed in a zone enclosure) to the node to maximize the usage of each port.  (For more information on zone cabling design, see From the node, the cable can either be a twisted pair construction or even a multi-conductor cable such as an 18 gauge, 2 conductor cable (18/2) which can be daisy-chained.  This is known as a tree topology.


(Courtesy of ANSI/BICSI-007-2020)

Spreading the Light

One of the biggest challenges in the cabling design for PoE LED lighting for both Star and Tree topologies are distance considerations from the TR or node to the actual components.  Because these are running on Ethernet cables, the TIA and IEEE standards limit the Category cable runs to 100 meters.  But in many instances the cable runs will need to exceed that distance, such as: 

  • Warehouses that cannot allocate precious square footage for a TR
  • Industrial locations that require unique harsh environment cable and connectivity
  • Outdoor parking lots or garages in a large environment (ie.: hotels, airports education, campuses and healthcare) which require 24/7 lighting
  • Expansive data centers (such as colocation or hyperscale facilities) where square footage costs are at a premium and lighting is an essential utility
  • Outbuildings, such as guard shacks, where a TR or enclosure is not a cost-effective or safe options.

The solution to this constant challenge is installing the GameChanger Cable™ from Paige Datacom, which doubles the distance of a typical Category 6 or 6A cable.  PoE LED lights use very low bandwidth and power which means that the patented GameChanger cable is UL verified to deliver 10 Mb/s up to 850 feet from the switch in the TR to the device or the node.  If using a Star topology, the distance is determined by the voltage drop. (See the GameChanger voltage drop chart).  If the lighting components are daisy chained from a node employing a multi-conductor cable the total cable length is determined by the number of devices, wattage required, voltage drop and, of course, gauge (AWG) size (usually, 12, 16 or 18 AWG).  

The GameChanger is available in different constructions to suit the specific installation environment including indoor unshielded riser or plenum, outdoor direct burial or shielded OSP. For those industrial locations, GameChanger is also available in an ITC-HL Class 1 Division Armored style specifically designed for hazardous locations. See the complete GameChanger cable specifications here.  Many integrators have already seen the light as  GameChanger has all scenarios covered and is becoming the recognized superspreader for delivering power and data to smart lighting systems.

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  • Industry News
  • 10.29.2020

Understanding Hazardous Locations and the challenges of monitoring them

Electrical equipment can and does cause explosions in some atmospheres. As cameras and senor capabilities increase, these cameras are being used in more areas than ever.  In the past, one of the limiting factors was placing a camera in a critical area defined as hazardous.   Hazardous areas are environments in which the atmosphere contains, or may possibly contain, flammable or explosive gases and, in the right conditions, may cause a fire or explosion.  The frequency of occurrence determines the level of hazard for a location. The longer the material is present, the greater the risk. These areas present many challenges in terms of where you can place, maintain, and use a sensor. Explosion-protected cameras address some of these concerns and regulations. 

To help define hazardous areas, a rating system was devised for definition of what can be used in a Hazardous Area.  In short, areas that produce a certain level of gas, vapor or liquid that are present in normal operation conditions.  Class/Division/Zone is the classification system set up in the US.  For this discussion we will use the Class I Division I hazardous areas. 

Class I, Division 1: There are three different situations that could exist to classify an area as a Class I, Division 1 location:

1.     Ignitable concentrations of flammable gases or vapors may exist under normal operating conditions.

2.     Ignitable concentrations of such gases or vapors may exist frequently because of repair or maintenance operations or because of leakage.

3.     Breakdown or faulty operation of equipment or processes might release ignitable concentrations of flammable gases or vapors and might also cause simultaneous failure of electric equipment.

The control and monitoring of equipment to ensure sustained processing activity is essential in refineries and industrial plants to control production and operational cost.  Companies are always looking to increase production, drive down the cost of production and improve environmental performance in refineries.  In the past, most of the monitoring relied on individual people walking an area to be the eyes and ears for any problems. Sensors were introduced and embedded in processing areas to monitor vibration, heat, and the like. Verification once a sensor alarmed was confirmed by still having to send in a person to validate the alarm. Cameras today can be the eyes and ears of a human to validate remotely without disruption to process operation or production thus reducing production costs. 

As we investigate a typical oil and processing area, we see the hazardous area and the CID1 with ignitable concentrations present as defined. We also see many process monitoring applications present. Such applications include:

·       Rotating equipment – equipment that could come out of balance triggering a vibration sensor

·       A thermal couple area – areas that could heat up too fast or exceed processing limitations. Many products are developed by mixing and adding chemical at a precise temperature for the chemical reaction to occur properly. I.e. antifreeze 

·       Valves and seals – junction points controlling volume tend to leak and fail. 

·       Settling tanks – used for separations during process. Monitored by thermal couples 

·       Pumps and pumping stations – looking for seal failure and early leaks

·       Piping – miles and miles of pipes can be monitored for leaks and wear or damage 

Using sensors such as visible and thermal cameras can help in monitoring and verify problems in some of these applications, remotely without shutdown or the risk of sending a person in that area. 

Challenges in remote monitoring in hazardous areas

Some challenges in remote monitoring in hazardous areas involve access to equipment for maintenance and reducing failure points.  Shut down for maintenance is costly in lost production.  Unscheduled shutdowns are very costly.  Easy quick installations with reduced crews because of lighter camera systems and no additional equipment needed to boost or extend network signals help reduce production downtime. New cabling solutions like the GameChanger CableTM from Paige, deliver 1Gb/s Ethernet and PoE+ up to 656 feet or 10Mbs/s up to 850 feet reducing costs, simplifying installs and saving money.  By extending the distance limitation with cable alone, installers are also avoiding the need to install (and later service) equipment in remote and hazardous areas, saving money and keeping workers safe.

Preventive maintenance 

Remote monitoring of these applications listed could help establish trend analysis and facilitate predictive maintenance thus allowing intelligent scheduling for preventive maintenance.  Explosion-protected cameras are IP cameras that can be configured remotely, health monitored remotely and rebooted remotely reducing the need for human interaction in the hazardous areas. 

Processing applications

Process capabilities of these cameras have increased significantly in the past several years. The ability to take an unacceptable image and process to get an acceptable usable image has never been more available than today.  These sensors are now a computer with a lens. Users are seeing more in challenging conditions using this technology to verify and confirm before costly intervention.

On the edge analytics

The ability to run multiple event-driven edge analytics reduces bandwidth use lowering costs and automates our monitoring process for implementation of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning). Edge based analytics can not only tell you if a person is entering an area that is restricted (safety, security) but can also notify if it see a rise in temperature of a failing component or detect a leaking pipe or emissions. 

New markets and applications  

As we see the cost of explosion-protected cameras go down, we see other verticals opening such as agriculture (processing plants, storage facilities, transportation lines, fuel distribution terminals), chemical (fertilizer plants, chemical facilities) transportation and water treatment facilities all having hazardous areas associated. These verticals also have common applications within their own plants requiring explosion-protected cameras and sensors. Automating critical monitoring not only reduces overall production costs but positions companies for the new digital age to come. 

  • Industry News
  • 09.30.2020

In the Zone - Cabling Design for today's Intelligent Buildings

In the Zone

Intelligent Buildings have changed the landscape of low-voltage infrastructure layout. One of the biggest changes is selecting the proper cable and topology to deliver network data and power (PoE) to devices, which had previously run on many different disparate cabling types and automation systems. These include security cameras, access control, wireless access points, HVAC, lighting and many more. Location of these devices vary greatly since they do not attach to typical telecommunications outlets installed 15” above the floor. These applications are fixed in ceilings, on walls, by doors, as well as outdoors in garages and parking lots. Gaining attention to connecting IP cabling to these devices is to employ a flexible zone cabling layout.

 A CB Series of zone enclosures from FSR Inc. are designed to house both active and passive equipment for intelligent building applications. Zone cabling was originally introduced to provide flexibility for open office space. But with the growth of PoE and converged applications onto the data network, zone cabling expanded its widespread use.  A zone cabling design consists of an intermediate connection point, referred to as a Horizontal Connection/Consolidation Point (HCP)  between the Telecommunications Room (TR) and the end devices.  Cables are pulled and terminated into the HCP, also called a zone enclosure, or ceiling box.  From the cross connection in the zone enclosure, additional horizontal cables are pulled to the outlets or connected directly to the device through a modular plug terminated link (MPTL).

The major benefit of a zone cabling design is that it provides easy-to-manage cabling between the TR and the devices, without having to homerun cable from all the way back to the TR.  A zone layout also reduces labor and material costs during reconfiguration because the cabling from the TR to the HCP stays intact, especially when adding future devices that will only require cable or patch cords from the HCP. 

Zone Cabling Guidelines

There are two standards that provide well-defined guidelines for the design, planning and installation of a zone cabling layout as an integral part of an intelligent building infrastructure — TIA-862-B-2016 Structured Cabling Infrastructure Standard for Intelligent Building Systems and ANSI/BICSI-007-2020 standardInformation Communication Technology Design and Implementation Practices for Intelligent Buildings and Premises. Together these two documents complement each other to provide cabling installation planning but may vary in some of the recommendations.   

For twisted-pair copper cabling, both TIA and BICSI recommend Category 6A for new installations or Category 6 at minimum in an existing building or as a retrofit.  In addition, BICSI also recognizes that in existing installations of intelligent building systems, the use of non-recognized horizontal cabling shall be allowed if the following conditions are met:  use of non-recognized cabling does not violate current Code or AHJ requirements;  the need for cabling is a result from the movement, expansion, or other alterations to an existing system; or the non-recognized cabling meets or exceeds the performance of the existing cabling in use by the specific system.    

TIA provides guidelines for cabling types, pathways, terminations and installation best practices. A zone enclosure or HCP is defined by TIA to house one or more of the following: a) a consolidation ; b) a horizontal connection point; or, c) intelligent building system outlet.  For twisted-pair cabling, in order to reduce the effect of multiple connections in close proximity on NEXT loss and return loss, the HCP should be located at least 15 m (49 ft) from the TR (or “Distributor”) that houses the active equipment.  When cross-connections are used at the HCP, an equipment outlet shall not be installed as part of Cabling Subsystem 1 to ensure that the cabling channel contains no more than four connections.  The zone enclosure should be sized to accommodate immediate requirements and long-term growth but not more than 96 connections.  

The BICSI standard leverages the requirements by TIA but delves more granular into the best practices for planning spaces, topology and media selection for the additional building applications.  The revised BICSI-007-2020 has expanded the section on design considerations for zone enclosures to include more options and topologies for horizontal cabling and contains diagrams and layouts that depict examples of a star topology (point-to-point), different coverage area patterns, and tree topology. 

Although TIA recognizes zone enclosures as only housing passive cross connections (or interconnections) for data or building devices, BICSI’s 007-2020 version states, “Unlike a consolidation point, an HCP may be either active or passive.”  Allowing active equipment, such as PoE extenders, midspan injectors, AC outlets, fans or switches within the HCP expands the design of the zone boxes. Spare capacity for future expansion is considered when determining the size of the HCP.  Manufacturers of ceiling boxes are now offering different configurations, sizes and features. (See photo for a ceiling box with electrical connections and accommodation for both patching fields and active components)

Zoning Out

A zone cabling horizontal channel distance is limited by TIA to 100m for twisted pair cabling from the equipment in the TR to the device itself, including patch cords.  This means that if the HCP is located at least 15m from the TR, that the end device can not run further than 85m from the zone enclosure (including the patching field)   (See Figure 1).  Since most of building devices are beyond 100m, there are options – add PoE extenders, which would require AC power for the active components, or use a  hybrid fiber/copper cable which would include employing media converters and PoE extenders and AC power, which greatly increases the material and installation costs, or simply specify the long-distance GameChanger Cable™.  The patented 22 AWG GameChanger cable more than doubles the distance of a Category 6 or 6A cable (unshielded or shielded) out to 260m (850 ft.) from the TR to the device if the zone box only houses a cross connection.  If  active PoE midspans or digital building PoE switches are installed in the HCP, then the GameChanger cable can run out to 260m from that point which drastically extends the total horizontal cable run. (See Figure 2).   

Figure 1: TIA-862B-2016 - Example of a Cabling Subsystem 1 using a star topology to coverage areas


Figure 2: GameChanger Cable extends the cable channel distance to 260m/850 ft. without zone cabling or at least 275m/899 ft with an HCP containing active equipment.



A properly executed zone cabling plan has many immediate and long-term benefits. It results in a more manageable and accessible cabling topology, which has a direct impact on material costs, labor, and future MACs and maintenance.  Smart building designers and installers will think outside of the box in selecting the appropriate cabling infrastructure to specifically address the application requirements and endpoints.  To see how GameChanger is the smart choice for intelligent buildings, check out our resources and our white paper.


  • Industry News
  • 08.05.2020

Safe Cable Choices for Hazardous Locations

A major safety concern defined in "hazardous locations" is the occurrence of fires and explosions due to presence of flammable gases, vapors, dusts or fibers. Hazardous locations (HL) are usually found in industrial facilities where explosive liquids, gases or dusts are present. No other aspect of industrial safety receives more attention in the form of codes, standards, technical papers, and engineering design.


Regulatory bodies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Electrical Code (NEC) and the NFPA 70 have established classification systems for locations which exhibit potentially dangerous conditions and hazards.  They define the types of hazardous substances that are, or may be, present in the air in quantities sufficient to produce explosive or ignitable mixtures.  Hazardous location requirements exist not only to prevent a fire or explosion, but also to contain the fire or explosion should it occur.  OSHA provides guidelines for specially designed equipment and special installation techniques must be used to protect against the explosive and flammable potential of these substances.


Hazardous locations are broken into different categories called “Classes” and “Divisions” in NEC’s Article 500 Hazardous (Classified) Locations – Classes I, II, and III, Divisions 1 and 2. The NEC imposes strict requirements for cabling methods in these locations which are permissible by the code-making bodies, also known in the ICT industry as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), with safety being the most critical consideration. The “Classes” define the type of explosive or ignitable substances which are present in the atmosphere or could be present.  The “Groups” define substances within the Classes and are rated by their flammable nature in relation to other known substances. The “Divisions” apply to the specific conditions and the likelihood of the specific substances in the Groups to exist in the areas.  




Division 1

Division 2


Gases, Vapors and Liquids

  1. Acetylene
  2. Hydrogen
  3. Ether
  4. Hydrocarbons, fuels, solvents, etc.

Explosive or ignitable gases or vapors are present under normal operating conditions

Explosive or ignitable gases or vapors are NOT normally present (but may accidentally exist) under normal operating conditions




  1. Metal dusts
  2. Carbon dusts
  3. Flour, grain, wood or chemical dusts

Combustible dust is in the air under normal operating conditions

Dust is not normally in the air in ignitable concentrations (but may accidentally exist)


Fibers and Flyings

Textiles, wood chips, etc. (ignitable but NOT explosive)

Easily ignitable fibers and flyings are handled, manufactured or used

Easily ignitable fibers are stored or handled


The process of classifying an area is often complex, so it is generally determined by the facility’s engineering staff. Buildings are not classified, but areas within the building are.  “Class I, Division 1” is the most hazardous classification. Notice that the ignitables  get bigger as the class number increases. Unfortunately, there isn’t always a clear boundary.  Often there are areas that have a mix of particle sizes.

Some examples of Class 1 areas are:

  • Petroleum refineries, and gasoline storage and dispensing areas;
  • Dry cleaning plants where vapors from cleaning fluids can be present;
  • Spray finishing areas;
  • Aircraft hangars and fuel servicing areas; and
  • Utility gas plants, and operations involving storage and handling of liquified petroleum gas or natural gas.


Selecting Proper Cable and Following Best Installation Practices 

Each type of hazardous location requires specific types of cable and installation methods. Approved wiring methods range from a rigid, highly impenetrable type of cable, such as Type MI (mineral insulated cable), to a raceway system such as metallic conduit. Cable glands (cable entry devices) used in hazardous locations are intended to provide the safe connection of suitable cables to enclosures, maintaining the explosion protection and ingress properties of equipment.  Cable glands provide a degree of environmental and ingress protection required for the equipment they are being connected to and the hazardous location for which they are being installed in. NEC prescribe the requirements for both cable glands and cables.


The NEC defines the types of cables that can be used in hazardous locations, and UL provides the means to approve cables for the US. The various cable types, in conjunction with the appropriate terminations, must provide a system that significantly limits or completely eliminates the possibility of an electrical arc or spark igniting the surrounding flammable gases, vapors, dusts or fibers. The approved cable types range from extremely rigid and impermeable mineral-insulated, metal-sheathed Type MI cables and MC-HL and ITC-HL cables with gas/vapor-tight continuous corrugated metallic sheaths to unarmored, highly flexible Type TC-ER-HL cables and flexible cords.


Cable allowed for use in Class I Division 1 are limited, with a few exceptions, to type MC-HL, ITC-HL, and TCER-HL under special conditions.  NEC provides requirements for equipment (including cables) installed in HL areas which includes:

  • Identification for use in the Class and Grouping of the location
  • Meets specific eternal or exposed surface temperature requirement
  • Marked to show its temperature range and the environment for which it has been evaluated 

In jurisdictions following IEC requirements, there are product standards for hazardous location cable glands. However, unlike NEC, IEC does not identify specific product standards for hazardous location cables, but provides installation cable requirements according to the IEC 60079-14. And although this standard provides guidance for the minimum requirements for cable installation, it does not define specific tests or construction specifically for hazardous location cable.  IEC recommends certain cable properties, such as jacketing materials not to be an “easy tear” type (i.e. with low tensile strength sheaths) unless installed in conduit, jacketing to be extruded and constructed of  thermoplastic, thermosetting or elastomeric materials and any fillers need to be water blocking.  


Tough Cable Challenges and an Easy Solution


In addition to the cable’s robust construction needed to perform in severe environments,  one of the biggest challenges for Ethernet cable is the 100m distance limitations.   In harsh environment locations, such as the Class I areas mentioned above, the distances from the telecommunications room (TR) to the devices often exceeds 100m.  Adding an additional termination point, whether a telecom enclosure or an additional TR is just not feasible or cost effective.

The GameChanger™ Cable, which was designed to deliver both data and power (PoE) far beyond the Ethernet distance limitations for Category cable, is now available in a version specifically developed for harsh locations.  This cable is classified as ITC-HL (instrumentation tray cable for hazardous locations), meeting UL2250 and UL2225 listings for 300V copper conductors for use in Class 1, Division 1 (CI/DI) hazardous locations.


This GameChanger cable consists of 22 AWG copper conductors with FEP insulation and manufactured with an inner jacket covered by a continuously corrugated welded (CCW) armoring and then sheathed with an outer PVC jacket.   This cable is ROHS-2 compliant, sunlight resistant and can be direct buried.  The operating temperature has a wide range of -50°C to +90°C which assures reliable performance in all severe environments. With the CI/D1 rating this armored cable allows installers to skip the expensive and time-consuming installation of rigid pipe or conduitand with a reach that goes well over two times traditional cable, saving a significant amount of time and money. 


All  GameChanger cables deliver 1Gb/s Ethernet and PoE+ up to 656 feet (200 meters) and 10Mb/s Ethernet and PoE+ up to 850 feet making it an ideal pairing for explosion proof cameras, WAPs and other edge devices. This cable eliminates intermediate IDF requirements and the need to install repeaters, power supplies and other equipment, which are costly and introduce additional points of failure.




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