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Telecommunications Design Guidelines

Facilities Design and Construction (FD&C) architects and engineers use these guidelines to design physical pathways for telecommunications cables with new building projects on the UCSD campus.

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Architect's responsibilities

For new building projects on the UCSD campus, or major renovations of an existing building, the architect is responsible to:

  • Design physical pathways for installation of telecommunications cables
  • Provide rooms dedicated to telecommunications cabling and equipment
  • Identify telecommunications outlet (TO) locations in conformance with the customer's requirements

In general, buildings will have one room known as the Telecommunications Equipment Room (T-E-R), also referred to as the main telecommunications room, located in the basement or on the first floor, and one or more smaller rooms known as Telecommunications Rooms (TRs) on each floor above.

ITS's responsibilities

The Information Technology Services (ITS) department provides design requirements for the telecommunications infrastructure. ITS gives its comments to the architects through the Facilities Design and Construction office's electrical engineer and project manager.

Cabling: ITS designs both outside plant (OSP) and inside plant (ISP) telecommunications cabling schemes for the building. ITS also prepares drawings, called TE-series drawings, and written specifications, Section 16750, for the installation of cables to the building and within the building. These drawings and specifications must be included in the general bid documents.

Equipment and costs: ITS gives FD&C a cost estimate for the cabling. UCSD also includes data and video communications networking equipment in the budget for new buildings. ITS specifies the networking equipment, sees that it is included in the budget, orders it and installs it once the building is complete. The architect is not concerned with any aspects of the networking equipment, aside from providing sufficient space (at ITS's direction).

Inspection: During the construction phase, ITS provides consultation and worksite inspection services to FD&C's site inspector regarding all aspects of the telecommunications infrastructure and cables.

Detailed guidelines

These guidelines address specific requirements for the design of telecommunications infrastructure in new buildings at UCSD (main campus in La Jolla). It does not include fire alarm systems, distributed antenna systems, access control/security systems, energy management, environmental control, paging systems and audio visual systems. (Revised Aug. 12, 2014)

1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to provide the FD&C project managers, architects, engineers and consultants with guidelines to use in the early planning stages of a project that are relevant to the design of telecommunications pathways and spaces. (UCSD Facilities Management may also use these guidelines.) Use the information in this document to make design-related decisions that meet the requirements of UCSD Information Technology Services (ITS) and also meet the needs of the building and its future occupants with respect to telecommunications.

ITS bases its requirements on ANSI/EIA/TIA standards such as: 568-B-- Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard; 569-- Commercial Building Standards for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces; 606-Administration Standard for the Telecommunications Infrastructure of Commercial Buildings; 607-Commercial Building Grounding and Bonding Requirements for Telecommunications; BICSI Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) and California Electric Code (CEC).

Coordinate with UCSD telecommunications representative any deviation from standards-based requirements. Comply with code requirements completely.

2. Entrance conduits

New buildings must be connected to the UCSD telecommunications manhole, tunnel and conduit system. The project may need to install new manholes and/or handholes. ITS representative will advise where the point of connection should be and will recommend a route for the new conduits.

In some circumstances new additional conduits may need to be installed to augment an existing conduit run which is full. As a general standard, at least four 4-inch and three 2-inch conduits are required into a new building. Route the 2-inch conduits into the fire alarm panel, energy management system panel, etc. Do not route them into the telecommunications equipment room or T-E-R. Provide 3/8" pull rope with 200 lbs. minimum tensile strength in each conduit. Do not provide pull strings. All conduits must be mandreled after installation. The minimum bending radius for the conduit sweeps is 22 feet. Conduits may only penetrate manholes and handholes through the end walls (i.e. the short walls).

Design entrance conduits so that they slope away from the building to prevent water from entering the building. If this is not practical then provide the manhole with a drainage system. Label conduits at both ends per UCSD standards.

Note that it is important that the general contractor obtains substructure locations for all existing utilities prior to starting excavation work. The contractor should use both Underground Service Alert (USA) and campus sources.

3. Requirements for telecommunications spaces

The requirements below apply to all telecommunications spaces:

A. Location

There must be at least one telecommunications equipment room (T-E-R) in a single-story building. A T-E-R may also be referred to as Minimum Point of Entry or MPOE.  For multi-story buildings, one T-E-R on the first floor (or basement) is required and at least one smaller telecommunications room (TR) is required on each floor above. The preferred location for T-E-Rs or TRs is the building core. The rooms should be stacked. They must be accessible either from the building exterior, public hallway or other common areas. They must not be located inside office spaces, class rooms, or auditoria.

Design the T-E-Rs and TRs so that they are within 295 "cable feet" (90 meters) of every telecommunications outlet (TO) on that floor. If this is not possible then more than one TR per floor is required. (295 cable feet includes cable lengths through vertical walls, conduits, cable trays and other pathways between the patch panels in the TR and the TO.)

T-E-Rs and TRs must be dedicated to telecommunications. These rooms shall not contain electrical and mechanical equipment; fire alarm panels, slop sinks for janitors, etc. Equipment not related to the T-E-R and TR such as piping, duct work, building column and distribution of building power must not be located in or pass through the T-E-R or TRs.

B. Doors

The doors to the telecommunications rooms must open 180 degrees outward unless restricted by building code. They must be a minimum of 36" wide and 80" high with no door sills. For security reasons, doors must be equipped with locks. Locks must be keyed to UCSD standard utility room key 10544 unless it is a telecommunications node room in which case the key must be DB108. This key assignment must be included in the keying schedule.

C. Floors

Carpet is not permitted in any telecommunications spaces. Floors should have lacquer finished or static-controlled vinyl sheeting or linoleum.  Rubber cove base must be installed.

The rating for distributed floor loading for telecommunications room must be greater than 100 lbs./sq. ft. Concentrated loading must be greater than 2000 lbs. in areas that will support telecommunications equipment.

D. Walls

All walls must be lined with ¾" void free A-C grade (or better) plywood. The plywood must be fire retardant or treated with at least two coats of fire retardant paint on all sides. The plywood must be installed with the smooth (finished) side to the interior of the room. Use flush mounted fasteners. Use light colored paint to aid with lighting in the rooms. The bottom of the plywood should be mounted 6" above finished floor (AFF). No electrical conduits, junction boxes or any other equipment may be mounted on or across any backboard. Telecommunications rooms must not have windows.

E. Ceiling

Drop ceiling or suspended ceiling is not permitted in any telecommunications room. The minimum acceptable ceiling height is 8.5'. It should be unobstructed to provide space over the equipment racks for suspended cable trays or horizontal ladder racks. Sprinkler heads must be provided with cages to prevent accidental operations. Drainage troughs must be provided under the sprinkler pipes to prevent leakage onto the equipment. Sprinkler heads must be as high as possible to avoid accidental operation from cable pulling activities.

F. Electrical power

A minimum of two dedicated (separate circuits) non-switched 120V/20A quad outlets with dedicated neutrals are required for equipment power at the rack lineup. They should be installed on the overhead ladder racks or cable tray. Emergency power should be utilized whenever possible. If there is a UPS and/or a generator in the building then one of these outlets/circuits on the ladder racks or cable tray in the TRs should be connected to it.

Additional convenience outlets should be flush-mounted 12 inches from the finished floor in the plywood backboard. These duplex outlets shall be installed at 6-foot intervals around the room. Emergency power should be utilized whenever possible. If there is a UPS and/or a generator in the building then every other convenience outlet in the TRs should be connected to it.

For large buildings, or when a telecommunications Node Room is provided, a dedicated electrical sub-panel should be installed in the MPOE or Node Room. The sub-panel may feed other TRs. Emergency power should be utilized whenever possible. If there is a UPS and/or a generator in the building, an additional sub-panel shall be added and fed from the emergency panels.

G. Lighting

Lighting must have uniform intensity of 50 foot candles when measured 3 feet from the finished floor. Indirect lighting is not permitted. Lighting fixtures must be on electrical circuits separate from the circuit that feeds the electrical outlets in the room. Do not place light fixture above equipment racks, cabinets, frames or other freestanding equipment to avoid blocking of light.

 H. Environmental controls

The telecommunications rooms will typically require air conditioning to maintain room temperature between 64 ºF-75 ºF and relative humidity between 30%-55%. The rooms require an independent temperature control unit or thermostat. 

I. Grounding

Per ANSI/NECA/BICSI 607 and ANSI/EIA/TIA- 607 requirements, the telecommunications grounding and bonding infrastructure shall be designed and routed through each telecommunications space. Each telecommunications room shall be equipped with a Telecommunications Grounding Busbar (TGB) bonded directly to the Telecommunications Bonding Backbone (TBB). The busbars shall be a maximum of 12” and minimum of 6" in length, 2" in width and 1/4 thick. They shall be drilled and tapped to accommodate standard NEMA compliant grounding hardware. The TBB shall be a minimum of #6 AWG stranded copper grounding conductor and should be in conduits. All TBBs must be tied to the telecommunications main grounding busbar (TMGB) located in the equipment room (or main telecommunications room). The TMGB must be bonded to the building system ground with a minimum of 3/0 AWG stranded copper bonding conductor (BC). The ohmic resistance to ground from any point in the telecommunications grounding system must not be more than 3 ohms.

J. Telecommunications Equipment Room (T-E-R)

A telecommunications equipment room (T-E-R) or MPOE is where the entrance conduits terminate. It is usually located on the ground floor but may also be located in the basement. A T-E-R typically functions as the main cross-connect (MCC). It is the main telecommunications serving point for the building. It will contain telecommunications equipment, much of it mounted on 19" racks. Cables will be spliced and terminated on the walls. It is important that the entrance conduits stub up in the T-E-R as close to a corner as possible.

Minimum T-E-R dimensions are 12' x 12-1/2'. A large building will require a larger T-E-R.

In certain buildings, the T-E-R will be further designated as a Node Room. A Node Room is used as a cabling hub not just for that building but for other buildings in that neighborhood of the campus. A Node Room requires additional space, air conditioning, and additional entrance conduits. It may require 30 amp outlets. In some cases, where a Node Room is designated in a building, a separate TR on the same floor as the Node Room may be required. (See also paragraph F. Electrical Power for additional requirements in a Node Room.)

ITS will advise FD&C and the architect in the initial planning stage if a Node Room has been designated. A fire suppression system must be installed in coordination with the campus Fire Marshall.

A Node Room will house telephone equipment, batteries, routers for campus wide area network (WAN), related local area network (LAN) switches, optical fiber cross connects and optical communications gear. Hence, it should be located so that it is accessible for the delivery of large equipment throughout its useful life. It should be at least 10' from a potential source of EMI (motors, transformers, photocopying equipment and the like). A node room must be accessible from the exterior of a building and may have a double door that opens out to allow equipment to be moved in and out of the room. Provide a ramp if entrance to the node room is higher than ground elevation. Do not install door steps.

K. Telecommunications Rooms (TRs)

TRs are smaller than T-E-Rs. They are the cabling hubs for floors within a building. They also contain network electronics, typically mounted in 19" racks.

  • A TR serving 50 WAs or 5000 sq. ft. must be at least 10'x 8' in size. (A typical WA is 10'X10' or 100 sq. ft.)
  • A TR serving an area larger than 5000 sq. ft. and less than or equal to 8000 sq. ft. must be at least 10'x 9'.
  • A TR serving an area larger than 8000 sq. ft. and less than or equal to 10,000 sq. ft. must be at least 10'x 11'.
  • For a building where useable floor area served is much less than 5000 sq. ft., a small 8'x 6' TR is adequate.

4. Horizontal pathways

The Horizontal Pathway System is the pathway through which cables are pulled from the T-E-R or TR to the outlets on that floor. Outlets must be connected to a TR on the same floor.

A. Homerun conduits

Each telecommunications outlet (TO) must be connected to the TR with a home run 1" conduit. Conduits should be run in the most direct route possible. The number of bends in the conduit should be minimized. No more than two 90 degree bends per conduit run is allowed. The use of "condulets" or "LB" type fittings is not allowed. No continuous run of conduit may exceed 100'. For runs more than 100 feet, pull boxes must be installed so that no segment between pull boxes exceeds 100 feet. The conduit must have a pullstring with 200 lbs. minimum test rating. Label conduits at both ends per UCSD standards.

A 2-inch conduit is required to each wall-mounted box that supports a multi-user telecommunications outlet assembly (MUTOA). A MUTOA is a special type of telecommunications outlets that can support up to 12 voice/data jacks. It is suitable for use in locations where there is a cluster of machines that are within 15 feet from the MUTOA.

Flexible conduits such as metallic flexible conduit are not desirable pathways for telecommunications cables because they tend to "creep" and "shift" and cause sheath damage to the cables. Therefore, the use of flexible conduits as pathway for telecommunications cables must be avoided as much as possible. If flexible conduit is used it must be de-rated to next larger trade size. Minimum allowable size of flexible conduits is 1-1/4”.

B. Cable trays

TOs can also be connected to the TR via a combination of cable tray and conduit. UCSD has standardized on using ladder type cable trays with trapeze-type mounting. Single point mounting is not acceptable. TOs should be connected to the cable tray with home run 1" conduits. Cable tray installation shall comply with all relevant seismic codes.

It is important that the path for the cable tray is clear of obstructions, such as HVAC ducts, large pipes and structural beams within the building. Where fire or smoke barriers are penetrated by the cable tray, they shall be fire stopped to maintain the rating of the barrier. Alternatively, conduit sleeves may be used through the penetrations. They must be fire stopped as well. The number of sleeves required depends on the number of cables and size of the tray. Use 50% fill ratio to determine the number of sleeves. Two additional spare sleeves should be installed to accommodate future cable placement.

Place cable trays above drop ceilings in corridors. Do not place them above offices or inaccessible spaces. There must be at least 4 inches of vertical space between the suspended ceiling tile and the bottom of the cable tray; 12 inches of vertical clearance from the top of the cable tray is required; and 2' total side clearance (meaning, if the cable tray is wall mounted and there is no clearance on one side, then minimum clearance on the other side should be 2').

It is desirable that the cable tray originates in the TR. If it does not originate from the TR then 4" conduits may be used to connect the TR to the cable tray. The number of 4" conduits required depends on the number of cables and size of tray. Use 50% fill ratio to determine the number of 4" conduits. Two additional spare conduits should be installed to accommodate future cable placement.

Access ceiling panels must be installed at 10-foot intervals and at every junction and turn if cable tray is passing through a hard-lid ceiling. The panels should be within 2 feet from the cable tray. They shall not be mounted directly underneath the cable tray.

If the cable tray must pass through a seismic joint then it may be installed in one of three ways: 1.) If the depth of the seismic joint is 12" or less , break the cable tray run into two sections, and leave the 12-inch (or less) gap between them within the seismic joint. 2.) If the joint is deeper than 12", break the cable tray run into two sections, and overlap the ends vertically by no more than 4" within the joint with at least 4" vertical clearance between them, or, 3.) Break the cable tray run into two sections, and use 6" flexible conduits between them to span the depth of the seismic joint. The number of conduits depends on number of cables and size of cable tray plus one spare for future cable pulls. Use 50% fill ratio to determine the number of 6" flexible conduits. (Note: Use of flexible conduit must be avoided as much as possible, but if it is really necessary to use them, then de-rate to the next larger trade size.

All metallic cable trays must be grounded but should not be used as grounding conductor for equipment.

C. Perimeter raceway system

In a perimeter raceway, power and telecommunications cables must be in separate compartments and must comply with applicable electric codes. When metallic barrier is provided, it must be bonded to ground. The barrier must run continuously throughout the length of the raceway.

A double-gang pull box must be placed in the wall at 10-foot interval along the length of the raceway. Each box must have a 1-1/4 conduit either homerun to the TR or to the cable tray.

D. Riser conduits

A minimum of four 4-inch vertical riser conduits or sleeves are required between TRs. They must be installed as close to a corner in the TR as possible. Label conduits at both ends per UCSD standards.

5. Telecommunications outlets

A. Standard wall outlets

A standard telecommunications outlet (TO) at UCSD is used for voice, data and sometimes video connections. It requires a double gang box, 4 11/16" x 4 11/16" x 2 1/8" deep, with a single gang mud ring. It is mounted flush in the wall at the same height as the convenience electrical outlet: 18" AFF.

Indicate TO locations on the prints using the UCSD Telecommunications symbol list. Use appropriate symbols to differentiate TOs that have additional interfaces such as video or that support special devices like wireless access points.

Placement of TOs for wireless access points must be closely coordinated with UCSD Telecommunications.

B. Floor-mounted outlets

Enclosures for floor mounted TOs must have cable pathways big enough to accommodate the amount of station cables and must accommodate standard jacks. Conduits to floor-mounted TOs shall be run to the nearest cable tray preferably in the ceiling below the outlets or run to the TR on the same floor as the outlet. Cables must be home run to the nearest TR on the same floor as the TOs.

6. Miscellaneous

A. Audio-visual, intercom, and paging systems

Audio-visual (AV) systems, intercoms and similar in-house paging devices are the responsibility of the architect. They may not be located in any TR. ACT does not design, support or maintain these systems.

B. Shell spaces, Open Office and Systems Furniture

Coordinate closely the design of pathways with furniture designer, electrical engineers and UCSD Telecommunications.

C. Elevator phones

Elevator phones are cabled to the elevator equipment room. There must be at least one TO in each elevator equipment room that is cabled to the nearest TR. There must be an adequate number of jacks on the TO to accommodate all elevators per equipment room in the building.

7. Reroutes

For many new buildings, the site work means that existing telecommunications cables in the area need to be rerouted. The architect is responsible for designing the conduits, manholes etc., necessary for the reroute. ACT will provide design advice and information. The general contractor will install the new underground conduits and manholes.

ACT will engineer the reroute of the cables through the new conduits. Cable reroutes are not done by the general contractor. ACT will prepare a separate bid document for the cable reroute, will select a contractor and will be responsible for the reroute. No existing telecommunications cables can be damaged or demolished until the reroute is complete. This needs to be made clear in the general bid documents. ACT will advise FD&C during the design stage how much time must be allowed in the construction schedule for the cable reroute.

8. References

Telecommunications Distribution Method Manual (TDMM) 11th Edition by Building Industry Consulting Services Incorporated (BICSI)

ANSI/EIA/TIA 568-B-- Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard

ANSI/EIA/TIA 569-- Commercial Building Standards for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces

ANSI/EIA/TIA 606-Administration Standard for the Telecommunications Infrastructure of Commercial Buildings

ANSI/EIA/TIA 607-Commercial Building Grounding and Bonding Requirements for Telecommunications

California Electric Code (CEC)

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