Revised cabling product and installation regulations out for public comment
The long-awaited Draft Customer Cabling Product standard (DR S008_2019) and Draft Customer Cabling Installation standard (DR S009_2019) were recently released for public comment.
- DR S008_2019 ‘Requirements for customer cabling products’ applies to cabling products (including cable and related customer equipment) intended for connection to the customer side of the boundary of a telecommunications network.
- DR S009_2019 ‘Installation requirements for customer cabling (Wiring rules)’ applies to the installation and maintenance of fixed or concealed cabling or equipment that is connected, or is intended to be connected, to a telecommunications network, including any cord or cordage, that is connected as fixed or concealed cabling.
Over the past 18 months, the current standards – AS/CA S008:2010 (products) and AS/CA S009:2013 (installation) – were comprehensively reviewed by a Committee, which included BICSI, to produce the draft standards that will replace them. Note that these standards were mandated as cabling regulations by the ACMA. Their 2019 replacements, once finalised and published, are likewise expected to be mandated by the ACMA, thereby replacing AS/CA S008:2010 and AS/CA S009:2013 as AS/CA S008:2019 and AS/CA S009:2019.
DR S009_2019 is the most important standard for Registered Cablers to review, because once it’s mandated by the ACMA, it will legally define cabling installation practices for all Cablers.
The draft Standards are now available for review and can be downloaded from here, along with an accompanying Background Paper with details on the key changes from the current standards, and instructions on how to submit comments on them.
The review identified several aspects of the current Standards that required revision to cater for technology changes and the significant growth of connected devices in customer premises. In its revision, the Committee drew upon the most currently available industry information. The revised Standards now align with new Australian safety standards and include new requirements for cabling supporting hazardous voltages and consider the growing application of customer cabling for the delivery of power to remote devices.
Summary of key changes:
- Alignment with the new product safety Standard AS/NZS 62368.1 ‘Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment Safety requirements’, particularly in relation to newly introduced energy source classifications (ES1, ES2 and ES3) which will replace the ELV, SELV and TNV terminology;
- New requirements for cabling supporting hazardous voltages, now classed as ES3. There are now voltage and current limits on ES3 circuits that are provided over generic cabling. Cables used for ES3 generic circuits will have specific conductor, sheath and installation requirements distinct from generic cabling;
- The growing application of customer cabling for the delivery of power to remote devices;
- The requirement that both cabling products and the installation of these products are to be “fit for purpose”;
- New requirements for the onsite termination of plugs on fixed and concealed cabling, addressing the cabling of a certain type of installed device, such as a surveillance camera or a wireless access point (WAP);
- Alignment with the relevant aspects of the laser product safety Standard AS/NZS 60825.2 ‘Safety of laser products – Safety of optical fibre communication systems’;
- Alignment with the National Construction Code (Building Code of Australia) for cable flammability and fire-propagation requirements;
- New requirements for cabling devices that are designed to be free to move as a part of their operation, examples being pendant outlets, surveillance cameras, medical pendants, articulated monitor/TV wall arm-mounts and furniture with movable parts; and
- Updated requirement for pit and access hole products;
The two draft Standards, together with an accompanying background paper and details on how to submit comments, can be found by clicking here.
The public comment period closes at 5:00 pm (AEST) Friday, 24 May 2019.
We encourage all Registered Cablers to download and read DR S009_2019. If you have views on it that you want the Committee to review, please submit them directly to the Committee.
Since BICSI is a committee member that will review the submissions, we won’t be making an aggregated submission on your behalf. We therefore encourage Registered Cablers to make their own submissions to the Committee. All comments received will be reviewed and considered by the Committee before the final Standards are published.
If you wish to discuss any aspects of the draft Standards, you’re most welcome to contact the BRCA office before the closing date.
Overwhelming Industry Response to ACMA Cabling Regulation Consultation Paper
In December, BICSI Registered Cablers Australia (BRCA) submitted a formal response to the ACMA’s Consultation Paper reviewing the current regulation of telecommunications customer. In total, 32 submissions were made to the ACMA, with a strong common message from industry for tighter, not looser cabling regulation.
BRCA’s submission was produced by committees made up of subject-matter-experts who compiled expert views and opinions representative of the industry’s perspective of current and future issues.
In forming our submissions, BRCA also worked with other industry groups – electrical, security, life-safety, AV, carrier, healthcare, engineering, education and distribution – to share views on broader issues affected by telecommunications cabling and the impact of regulation. What resulted from this cooperative approach was a better understanding of the current telecommunications legislation and the increasing dependence of many services on cabling by all of these industry bodies, while ensuring we all had a common vision for the future of cabling regulation in Australia.
Recent feedback from the ACMA was that the wider industry overwhelmingly opposed any reduction in regulation that the ACMA was exploring in its Consultation Paper. In fact, there was a strong call from industry for the ACMA to update the regulations to factor new technologies like digital power and Internet of Things (IoT) and strengthen its enforcement of the regulations; as well as revising the administration of vocational education and qualifications for the cabling profession.
In total, there were 32 submissions to the Consultation Paper – nearly 10 times the number of submissions the ACMA would normally receive to its Consultation Papers. This sends a clear message to the regulator on the industry’s unanimous views on cabling regulations. You can see 31 of the 32 submissions, as well as the ACMA’s Consultation Paper at https://www.acma.gov.au/Home/theACMA/review-of-regulation-of-telecommunications-customer-cabling
The rationale presented in the Consultation Paper was that the telecommunications landscape had changed significantly since the regulations (address only safety and network integrity, not quality or performance) were instigated and that the risks may have diminished over that time, questioning if they needed updating commensurate with the technology changes, or the need for cabling regulation at all. The Paper cited the industry’s migration to non-conductive optical fibre in the network and wireless in premises, together with the prevalence of electrical residual current devices (RCDs or ‘safety switches’) in electrical circuits as removing the risks of electrocution.
As you will see in many of the submissions, this rationale was proved to be an erroneous assumption, with the following collective arguments:
- most of the carrier network is still copper thanks to the MTM (Multi-Technology Mix) structure of the NBN;
- RCD deployment is minimal in Australian premises and will take several decades to be 100% deployed; and
- Wireless technologies are supplementing wired technologies, not replacing them. In fact the increasing utilisation of wireless in Wi-Fi, DAS, 4G, 5G, etc applications is seeing more – not less – cabling being installed in premises.
Further arguments were collectively presented in favour of tighter cabling regulations on the basis of safety and network integrity because of:
- The growing adoption of Power over Ethernet (PoE) as a more cost-effective way to power devices in buildings and remote locations instead of mains-power, which introduces heat and fire-related risks to cabling.
- The increasing dependence of life-safety, security and health services on telecommunications cabling, as internet-connected technologies become more pervasive.
- The emergence of ‘digital power’ that has the potential to introduce hazardous voltages and currents onto telecommunications cabling that could be harmful to both users and cablers. These are defined in the Standards as “energy sources” and classified as ES1, ES2, ES3.
The ACMA is currently reviewing all of the submissions in order to take appropriate steps moving forward. We are awaiting their official comments on them in due course. As soon as BRCA receives comments from the ACMA, we will notify BRCA Registered Cablers.
In the meantime, we encourage you to review the submissions to gain a deeper insight into the industry’s views on many facets of cabling regulation.
The shortage in telecommunications trades workers is no more
According to a recent Australian government report, there is no longer a shortage in skilled telecommunications trades workers.
The Federal Department of Jobs and Small Business recently stated that the telecommunications industry is no longer facing a shortage in its current labour market, with employers reportedly attracting sufficient numbers of suitable candidates.
The Department defines ‘Telecommunications Trades Workers’ as people who “install, maintain and repair data transmission equipment, aerial lines, conduits, cables, radio antennae and telecommunications equipment and appliances.” This includes Registered Cablers who install customer premise cabling.
The report states:
- The number of applicants was relatively large in 2018, with nearly 80% employers attracting suitable applicants, although employers generally had more difficulty doing so than they did 2012-2014.
- Some employers stated the NBN rollout was still affecting the availability of skilled workers, with a significant number of vacancies being for NBN-related work.
- Most employers sought applicants with Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Open Cabling Registration and two thirds of vacancies required applicants to be trade-qualified. Employers typically sought applicants with experience and skills specific to the role.
- The demand for telecommunications trades workers has strengthened in recent years. Over the past three years, advertised vacancies grew 37% and the level of employment grew 31%.
- Telecommunications infrastructure investment, which influences the demand for these workers, continues to be historically high, but fell recently, with telecommunications construction activity falling by 20% over the year to June 2018.
- Employment in this occupation is projected to fall by 8% over the next five years, with demand from telecommunications investment likely to fall as the NBN rollout approaches completion.
- Many of the surveyed employers cited ACMA Open Cabling Registration as a requirement.
- The number of students enrolled in Certificate III courses relevant to this occupation peaked in 2016, but fell in 2017.
New classifications to identify Wi-Fi technologies
Over the past 20 years, we have seen Wi-Fi technology, based on the IEEE 802.11 standard, continually improved, with each generation bringing faster speeds, lower latency, and better user experiences.
To help identify which Wi-Fi devices provide what levels of service and performance, simplified generational names have been introduced that may appear in device names and product descriptions. The latest generation of Wi-Fi devices, based on the 802.11ax standard, are known as ‘Wi-Fi 6’ devices. The majority of devices shipping today, based upon the 802.11ac standard, are identified as ‘Wi-Fi 5’.
- ‘Wi-Fi 6’ identifies devices that support IEEE 802.11ax technology;
- ‘Wi-Fi 5’ identifies devices that support IEEE 802.11ac technology; and
- ‘Wi-Fi 4’ identifies devices that support IEEE 802.11n technology.
The differences are in the technologies used. Wi-Fi 6 isn’t necessarily much faster than Wi-Fi 5 in a device-for-device comparison; but it’s much more efficient. So in busy environments with many devices on a network – airport, large office, or home with many devices – a W-Fi 6 router handles all the devices better, helping them maintain consistent data speeds.
The technologies that make Wi-Fi 6 faster are MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) which enables devices to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, rather than one at a time; and OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access), which allows one transmission to deliver data to multiple devices at once.
WI-FI 6 is also designed to be more secure and improve battery life, again through the technologies it utilises.
There is a push for ‘Wi-Fi 6 certification’ so consumers and installers can better determine compatibility across Wi-Fi devices. It’s expected to be adopted by industry late 2019.
Australia leads global race to adopt 5G
Australia will lead the world in the 5G race and will be one of the first countries to deploy the technology to consumers this year, according to Deloitte’s 2019 TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) Predictions.
Deloitte predicts 2019 to be the year 5G arrives in scale across the globe, providing the fastest mobile internet speeds ever, forecasting that 25 network operators will launch 5G services globally this year, and twice that in 2020.
Deloitte Partner, Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Peter Corbett said: “The high data speeds and low latency 5G provides could spur the next evolution of health-care, smart transport, manufacturing and nearly every industry that relies on connectivity. We predict Australia will be one of the fastest countries to commercially rollout 5G, and put its power in the hands of every day Australians.”
More than 1 million 5G-ready handsets are forecast to be sold worldwide in 2019, and Australia is predicted to sell 50,000 of them. This is a considerable stake in the global figure, largely attributed to Australia’s 5G infrastructure readiness.
Australian network operators have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into 5G infrastructure, laying the foundations for the technology and enabling Australia to lead the pack.
Deloitte also predicts 1 million 5G fixed wireless access devices will be installed around the world in 2019, with Australia predicted to install 10,000 devices by year’s end.
“We also expect to see more partnerships between 5G fixed wireless service providers and city councils to mount small cells on light poles and other sites,” Corbett added. “This will allow telcos to access small cell locations through a city, without having to acquire expensive real estate.”
As 5G rolls out across Australia, Deloitte predicts a new wave of innovative and 5G-ready Internet of Things (IoT) devices to hit the market.
“These innovative products will include 5G enabled smart-home appliances, sensors and vehicles. 5G will enable a more efficient and diverse smart appliance ecosystem,” Corbett said. “There are many opportunities and challenges ahead for the 5G rollout. We predict 2019 will see commercial rollouts within connected pockets of major cities.”
And just one simple reminder about terminology. Most cablers correctly refer to themselves as “ACMA Registered Cablers”, which is the term the regulator – the ACMA – decided on years ago. But back in the nineties, cablers were “Austel Licenced Cablers”, because the regulator, known as Austel at the time, called it an “Austel licence”. Some cablers still call themselves “Austel licenced”, but it’s slowly diminishing. So the next time you’re introducing yourself, tell them you’re an “ACMA Registered Cabler”.