Copper Industry Group Applauds New FCC Wiring Standard

February 15, 2000


The Copper Development Association Acknowledges Government Effort to Ensure Quality Wiring Installations to Support Broadband Telecommunications Services

NEW YORK - The Copper Development Association Inc. voiced approval today of new standards set by the Federal Communications Commission for telephone wiring installed inside homes and other buildings. The new rule requires that when copper wiring is installed for telecommunications applications, at a minimum it must be solid, 24 AWG or thicker, twisted pairs, marked to indicate compliance with specifications for Category 3, as defined by ANSI/EIA/TIA Building Wiring Standards. The standard applies to both new construction and retrofit installations.

" CDA applauds the FCC's effort to encourage builders to install quality wiring to ensure that consumers have access to widely available communications services," said William T. Black, Copper Development Association vice president, wire and cable. "The new standard will benefit consumers as carriers deploy broadband services that are more demanding than traditional voice telecommunications," said Black, referring to the surge in the number of phone lines to accommodate Internet and fax connections, as well as developing technologies such as high-speed data transmission, computer networking and video services.

Category 3 and other, higher-speed cables such as Category 5 and Category 5E, consist of four twisted pairs of solid copper wire in a configuration that facilitates installation of multiple phone and fax lines. These advanced cables are also used for networking computers. The practical effect is to speed transmission and reduce static, cross-talk and degradation of signals-all common problems with old-style cable designed for analog voice service, especially when installed in close proximity to other wiring.

Black pointed out that the process leading to publication of the new standard began more than four years ago. He said, "Today Cat 5 copper communications wiring is the recognized minimum for broadband services, with more than six times the capacity of Cat 3. Cat 5E is becoming the new standard. Any of the Cat 5 or better cables have capacity and speed several times greater than needed for today's high-speed Internet services, such as DSL and cable modems. Installing the more advanced cables now provides a comfortable cushion for the future.

" And we know now that communications systems work best when they're installed in a 'home run' setup," Black advised, referring to a wiring configuration in which each phone jack is wired directly to a hub or central distribution device rather than connected in series.

" We're pleased to have CDA's support for the new ruling," said Ronald Provost, governmental relations representative for BICSI, a not-for-profit professional association for designers and installers of telecommunications systems. BICSI first petitioned the FCC to develop new requirements in response to complaints from consumers and carriers about inadequate cabling installed to support telecommunications systems. Provost chaired the FCC Ad Hoc Administrative Committee that developed the rule for telecommunications cable.

" Now that we've succeeded in setting a new minimum requirement, we've got to get the word out. CDA will be an influential voice in the market," Provost said.

" Installers, builders, remodelers and consumers should take note that the new FCC rule specifies Category 3 wiring or better," said Black. "The emphasis should be on better. The more advanced wiring offers incremental performance benefits at little or no additional cost. And people shouldn't hesitate to install phone jacks now wherever they think they might need them in the future-wherever they or the next family that owns their home might want to plug in a laptop or other communications device."

The FCC's new rules apply to installations made on or after July 8, 2000.