What do I need to know about installing data and telecommunication cables?
Guidance to assist the electrical worker to ensure data and communication networks are safe, compliant and to mitigate any hazardous or detrimental effects from general electrical wiring work.
- Safe Work
Trend for integration of services
There are increasing levels of integration between the various services and applications in homes and other buildings These include telephone, data, broadcast TV, audio, video, gaming, security and building control services that are interlinked through generic or structured cabling system utilizing data cable such as Cat 5 or Cat 6 unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and coaxial cables operating at very low voltages typically well below extra low voltage (ELV).
This trend also means that electrical workers are becoming increasingly involved with the installation of these extra-low voltage communication and data systems alongside the general electrical power and lighting wiring.
Substandard installation practices in these types of installations have potential safety risks associated with hazardous higher voltages from general electrical wiring (230 or 400 volts, low voltage) (LV) entering ELV communication /data network installation as well as possible detrimental effects on functionality of the communication network through electrical interference and signal loss caused by electrical induction.
For these reasons it is important that persons carrying out this work are competent and familiar with the requirements of AS/NZS 3000 and the NZ Telecommunications Forum Premises Wiring Code of Practice.
Compliance and best practice
AS/NZS 3000 (the standard) has a number of requirements related to the segregation of general electrical services from telecommunications, extra low voltage and other non-electrical services. The clauses containing this information can be searched and found in the standard through the index or search function of the online version of the standard. (Search telecommunications) This standard is freely available to licenced electrical workers through the ERWB website.
The TFC Premises Wiring Code of Practice(external link) (TFC code ) is referenced by AS/NZS 3000 and provides the cable installer with a set of best industry practice guidelines to assist them to plan, install and maintain these types of communication networks to ensure they are electrically safe and provide long‐term performance and reliability.
Here are examples of substandard / non-compliant installation practices, where insufficient separation between data and other electrical cables has created examples of the potential risks highlighted above.