Data & Voice Communication
Help Guide

What's In It For Me?

Data and Voice communications represents the greatest growth potential for electrical contractors. The Data & Voice Communication industry has been growing by as much as 25% per year and the revenue from the installations is estimated around $1.5 Billion per year.

Where are the data & voice communication opportunities?

These days, it is important to be able to diversify your source of income, not only to grow but in some cases, survive. Data communications is the way of the future. Before too lord most electrical contractors will need to be able to work with both electrical and data communications to remain competative.

One area of growth is the small office or home office. Not only home businesses but working from home is becoming an increasing trend. What makes this possible? Data and communications.

The market sectors with the greatest use of Data & Voice Communications are:

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39.gif - 2.8 K Commercial
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Some of the main applications of this type of installation are:

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blue1.gif - 1.3 K Air Conditioning
blue1.gif - 1.3 K Security
blue1.gif - 1.3 K Telephony / PABX
blue1.gif - 1.3 K Video Conferencing
blue1.gif - 1.3 K LANs/WANs

How is it different to what I am doing now?

Much of the work you are already doing and the expertise you already have, can easily be transferred to the Data & Voice Industry.

Cable selection and installation is easier than ever before

Previously, when a number of computer users were connected to each other such as in a business, each type of computer system required a specific type of cable. If the computer system became obsolete, so did the cable. This meant the cable had to be updated and the installer needed to have knowledge of many different types of cable. Now there is one standard cable making life for contractors much simpler. This able is known as Category 5 or "Cat.5"

Installing cables

Instead of power cables, you will be handling Data Cable such as UTP (unshielded twisted pair) Cat.5, or Optical Fibre cable often replacing multi stranded and coax cable. These cables have smaller diameter conductors than power cables and special transmission properties and so are not as robust. They need extra care in handling.


In many Data Installations, you will be terminating wires using IDC (Insulation Displacement Connectors) which require no stripping, crimping or soldering. Terminating optical fibre cable requires professional training and special tools.


After all the cabling is installed, it is tested with an approved cable tester to SAA HB27 (Aust Version of TSB67) which provides a pass or fail report.

Different products

Most of the products and components used in Data Communications are smaller in size than you would be used to dealing with. In most cases they are quite easy to install and terminate but extra care is generally needed so that their high data speed properties are not degraded.

No hazardous power problems

All Data Cabling works on low voltage and thus provides no threat or danger to the qualified Installer. However, power cables and electrical apparatus can degrade the data cabling due to noise induction. The standards tell us what separation or shielding is required.

New Terminology

When you enter the Data Communications industry, like in any specialist field, you will need to learn some of the key terminology used to understand the concepts. I've included a glossary at the end of this webpage, but a more comprehensive one exists called glossary in the Technical Page lookup. You may like to look at it now to become familiar with some of the terms, or alternatively, look up the words as you read through the material.

Many of the tools are common

Many of the tools you have currently are used in this field, and you will only need to purchase a few number of tools to help your installations. It is important that the correct choice of tools are purchased which will greatly assist you in maintaining installation quality to Category 5 Level.

What do I need to know?

About the Austel licence

Austel (the Australian Telecommunications Authority) is the "Watchdog" of the Australian Telecommunications Industry. Its main concern is SAFETY. It sets the rules and regulations which ensure a safe environment for the:

21.gif - 2.8 K carrier's personnel
21.gif - 2.8 K customer/user of telecommunications equipment
21.gif - 2.8 K carrier's equipment

Why do I need an Austel Licence?

The Australian Government passed the Telecommunications Act in 1991. This deregulated the telecommunications industry enabling licensed providers to undertake cabling work formerly done only by Telstra. The licence was introduced to ensure the safety and quality of installations. The base cabling licence is not sufficient for Cat.5 and optical fibre installation, and thus Austel requires you to also have a specialist licence endorsed for Cat.5 and optical fibre cabling.

note01.gif - 1.7 K Please note: If the installer is going to work on a voice and data job he/she must comply with AUSTEL regulations.

Installing and maintaining data communications cables often involves working alongside electrical power cables. If electrical power found its way onto the phone network, think of the consequences! Always use AUSTEL approved products and adhere to the separation and segregation requirements of Austel's Technical Standards.

How do I go about getting training?

On 1 January 1997, Austel adopted the competency based method of training and assessment developed by the Telecommunications Industry Advisory Board (TITAB) for licence award and qualification. It is based on knowledge and skill. Licence applicants must be able to satisfy a TITAB registered workplace assessor that they have the underpinning knowledge and that they are competent in applying the required skills.

Institutions and TAFE Colleges as well as independent companies that provide Cabling Courses must not only be accredited by TITAB to conduct this training, but also be registered as a training provider by a state registration authority. In NSW this authority is the Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board. (VETAB).

JB Hunter Technology, which is TITAB listed, is a leading company that provides courses to mutli-skill electrical and electronic tradespeople to undertake telecommunications cabling, equipment installation and, maintenance. They operate in all states and can be contacted by telephone on 1800 672 933.

Their Austel Base Cabling Licence (BCL) Conversion Course for Electricians includes the following:

26.gif - 2.8 K all tuition - including a practical module on termination techniques
26.gif - 2.8 K all workplace assessment
26.gif - 2.8 K a resource text book for the course
26.gif - 2.8 K Austel's Customer Premises Cabling Manuals available for purchase.

The above course fulfills the requirements of AUSTEL and TITAB.

Category 5 Installer Course

To install data cabling, an Austel licensed cabler must have Category 5 Endorsement on his/her licence, if they hold a BCL. Those who hold the older GPC licence currently have licence cover until it expires at the end of its five year period. At that time, they will need to have existing knowledge and experience recognised by a TITAB registered assessor or have passed a recognised training course. It is recommended that a course in Category 5 installation is the best option. This course will also help the installer become familiar with AS3080-96 and AS3084 standards.

AS3080-96 standards provide the layout, dimensioning, component transmission quality specification, installation practices, compliance testing to Category 5 quality. The above course is also available through JB Hunter Technology. They also provide courses in optical fibre and coaxial cabling.

Other useful Courses.

There are also Category 5 courses provided by suppliers which qualify you as an accredited installer of the manufacturer's products and provide manufacturer's warranties. The Krone category 5 Master Installers course fully meets Austel and TITAB requirements for Category 5 Austel Licence endorsement.

29.gif - 2.7 K Krone Australia (Technique)
29.gif - 2.7 K Mod Tap Australia
29.gif - 2.7 K The Siemon Company

What equipment do I need?

Basic Tools of the Trade

30.gif - 2.9 K coax crimping tools
30.gif - 2.9 K coax 3 blade stripper
30.gif - 2.9 K RJ11/12/45 modular ratchet crimper
30.gif - 2.9 K compression tools, crimpers and wire cutters

Other Useful Tools

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30.gif - 2.9 K Iabeling equipment and printers
30.gif - 2.9 K wire markers, Velcro straps and cable ties
30.gif - 2.9 K test instruments and multimeters
30.gif - 2.9 K LAN test equipment
30.gif - 2.9 K breakout boxes to test cable configurations
30.gif - 2.9 K computer power cords
30.gif - 2.9 K fire stopping equipment
30.gif - 2.9 K insertion/extraction tools.

Specialist Tools

Fibre Optic Termination Tools

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30.gif - 2.9 K st/sc crimp tool
30.gif - 2.9 K st/sc polishing fixture
30.gif - 2.9 K jacket stripper
30.gif - 2.9 K Kevlar scissors
30.gif - 2.9 K buffer stripper
30.gif - 2.9 K scribe tool
30.gif - 2.9 K multi cure fibre optic connector oven

Fibre Optic Accessories

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30.gif - 2.9 K isopropyl alcohol
30.gif - 2.9 K polish glass plate
30.gif - 2.9 K dust blaster kit
30.gif - 2.9 K inspection microscope
30.gif - 2.9 K fibre optic power test meters

Getting to know the basics

There seem to be so many different types of cables, which ones do I use?

In most cases you will use Cat.5 cable because it replaces a number of the traditional types of cables such as coax and multi stranded cable. There will be times when you will also use fibre optic cable.

The development of the unshielded twisted pair cable (UTP) has allowed faster transmission of information.

Category 3 cable is still used for voice and low speed data. The UTP Category 5 cable handles voice and high speed data applications. For more information see the chart below.

1&2 less than 1MHz Voice & low speed data
3 16MHz 10Mbps Voice & higher speed data (10-Base-T, 4Mbps Token Ring)
4 20MHz 16Mbps Voice & high speed LAN
5 100MHz 100Mbps Heaps

We have come a long way since the humble telephone cable!
Category 5 wiring system is:

21.gif - 2.8 K Inexpensive
21.gif - 2.8 K Easy to install compared to other vendor specific cables
21.gif - 2.8 K Totally flexible, suits many types of different vendor's equipment
21.gif - 2.8 K Able to service all makes of vendor equipment
21.gif - 2.8 K Customers are not locked into any one vendor/manufacturers' equipment
21.gif - 2.8 K Guaranteed future growth path - all new systems built to work on UTP Cable
21.gif - 2.8 K Facilitates geographical relocation of services without network/user disruption

The Cat.5 UTP cabling is generally the most inexpensive data cable for wiring buildings. This enables pre wiring in a building at a lower cost than the traditional data cabling scheme. Costs are not only saved in installation, but costly rewiring is prevented.

Guaranteed Future Growth Path

Because of the massive base of installed UTP building wiring systems throughout the world, all computer vendors are strategically compelled to bring their product out to work on UTP cable.

The future growth path of UTP is therefore ensured. Using Cat 5 UTP Cable, allows the emerging ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) 155 Mbit/s LAN systems to operate on the Category 5 Structured Cabling System. ATM is an emerging network standard designed for high speed communications for a wide range of services.

What is a cabling system?

If a business wants to link its computers within a building, they need a Structured Cabling System which creates a physical link between all sources and destinations. The system is also used in linking multiple building sites such as a large university campus or the branches of banks. The structured cabling system therefore plays a vital role in all telecommunication systems.

What cable is used?

The Structured Cabling System connects both Voice and Data and other media systems throughout a building or buildings using Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP), Cat.5 cable or Optical Fibre Cable or both.

The Structured Cabling System will support a wide variety of applications - from voice and low speed data to high speed LAN. The Category 5 cable can cater for all these needs.

The main technical characteristics of UTP cable which are a determining factor in the performance of a cable are as follows:

CAPACITANCE: The lower the capacitance, the higher the performance of the cable.
TWIST RATE: The more frequent & regular twist rate, the higher the performance of the cable.
NEAR-END CROSSTALK (NEXT): The lower the crosstalk between pairs, the higher the performance of the cable.
ATTENUATION: The lower the attenuation figure, the higher the performance of the cable.
NOTE: EIA/TIA 568 Technical Service Bulletin (TSB36) outlines the technical specifications required for each level of cable. As per AS3080-96

That's the cable, what about the connectors?

As cabling becomes standardised, so have the connectors. The most common type you will use is the Registered Jack (RJ) connector.

The RJ's are numbered as they were registered by the designers.
The most common RJs are:
RJ45 (8 pins)
RJ12 (4 or 6 pins)
RJ11 (4 pins)
The RJ45 'Modular' format allows an easy snap-together wiring.

Resource and distribution points.

A rack cabinet is used to house hardware equipment and patch panels for the resource and distribution points. A patch panel is a connecting hardware with a series of connectors (jacks) in which a plug is inserted to make an electrical connection.

The patch panel cross-connect frame is arranged so that different data resources and LANs appear as RJ45 data resource ports in the rack cabinets, ready to be patched to the Category 5 distribution patch panels. (A resource port is the one connected to the main computer or source of data.)

Voice services such as telephone, fax and modems can also be connected to RJ45 Voice Resource Patch Panels ready to be patched to the Category 5 distribution patch panels.

The distribution patch panels enable the data to be distributed from one source to many locations on each floor within a building.

Diagram 1
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How the outlets are wired

The wiring shown within the floor distribution area in diagram 1 is referred to as "star" topology. It is the most common wiring arrangement for distribution set ups. The wiring radiates out from a central wiring distribution patch panel to the telecommunication outlets such as PCs, terminals or printers.

Because of the wide range of locations, a variety of telecommunication outlets are available. The common applications are listed below:

Category 5 RJ45 Workstation Outlet to suit Clipsal 2000 / HPM Flush Plates including Slimline
(Internal Walls)
Architrave Plates
Category 5 RJ45 Surface Mount Outlets
(Solid Walls! Desktops & some Modular Office Furniture)
Single - Category 5 RJ45 Surface Outlet
Dual - Category 5 RJ45 Surface Outlet
For more ports than a dual RJ45 Surface Outlet, use flush outlets with a surface mounting block
Category 5 Workstation Outlet Module
(Can be designed to clip into HPM / Clipsal Plastic Flange for flush mounting to duct)
(Skirting Duct & some Modular Office Furniture)

Resource Patch Panels and Distribution Patch Panels are installed in close proximity to each other in Rack Cabinet. It now becomes a simple task to patch (or connect) a chosen LAN System Port or Voice Service to any part of the building. This is done using RJ45 Patch Leads.

Category 5 Patch Leads are available in various lengths and consist of RJ45 8x8 connectors each end terminated to Cat.5 multi stranded twisted pair cable.

Completion of structured cabling system

Both resource and distribution can be installed completely independently of the other. It is common practice for the wiring installation contractor to install only the distribution wiring system in a building project.

After installation and testing of the structured cabling system, the contractor hands over the installed distribution system to the customer having no input into what is "patched" into the installed system. The end user may use a different contractor or network specialist to install the resource side of the project or alternatively, the end user may implement the resource side themselves.

What about the standards?

All vendor patch panels and workstation outlets must comply with the stringent AS3080-96, or EIA/TIA TSB 40A and ISO/IEC DIS 11801 Connector Performance Specification over all pair combinations at all frequencies.

Therefore the integration of Category 5 Connector products with AS3080-96 or TSB36 Compliant Cat.5 UTP Cable, ensures "full end-to-end All Pair" Category 5 connectivity and performance of the installed Structured Cabling System.

Category 5 UTP Wiring Schedules

The UTP Cat.5, 4 Pair Cable is connected to the Category 5 RJ45 Patch Panel at one end, and to the Category 5 RJ45 Workstation Outlet at the other end. The 4 Pairs must be connected to the corresponding RJ45 contacts at each end to eliminate any crossovers or reversals in the wiring systern.

The Australian Standard AS3080-96 and the American Standard ElA/TIA 568 have been written to create a uniform cabling standard throughout the world. The T568A Wiring Schedule (reproduced below) arranges the pairs to certain Pin Numbers on the RJ45 Jack: (Category 5 Connectors can also be connected to the 568B Schedule).

The international Standard ISO/IEC/DIS 11801, and Australian Standards AS3080 recommend only one Wlring Schedule be implemented in a Category 5 Structured Cabling System. This is commonly referred to as the ElA 568A Schedule.

note01.gif - 1.7 K NOTE: The EIA 568B (258A) has an identical Pair Layout. Only the designated order of pairs change, thereby reversing the orange and green paired conductors.

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By now, you may have realised that setting up a cabling system isn't as difficult as it first may seem. In fact, once you know the basics and understand the relevant standards, it is probably no more difficult than what you are doing now.

I can't tell you everything there is to know about Data and Communications but I hope this overview helps your decision about entering into this growing and dynamic industry. As with most things, the hardest part is getting started.

Brands and Models Standard Product Tool Required?
Krone & Highway Cat.5 outlets, patch panels & voice products Krone tool
Shuttle Cat.5 outlets & patch panels Krone tool
Kwasar Cat.5 outlets & patch panels Krone tool or "110" tool
Ortonics Cat.5 outlets, patch panels & voice products "110" tool
Mod Tap Cat.5 outlets & patch panels Modtap tool
NG T Lans Plus Cat.5 outlets & patch panels Use either tool
Amp Cat.5 outlets & patch panels "110" tool
AT&T Cat.5 outlets, patch panels & voice products "110" tool
Quante Voice & data Quante tool
Nortel - MDV0 Cat.5 outlets & patch panels No tool
Nortel Bix System Voice Bix tool

A few key terms

Attenuation A reduction in power or amplitude of the transmitted signal.
Backbone Cabling Cable and Connecting Hardware that comprise the main and intermediate cross-connects, as well as cable runs between comms closets, equipment rooms and entrance facilities.
Baluns An impedance matching device to connect balanced twisted pair cabling and unbalanced coaxial cable.
Building Distributor The international term for Intermediate Cross-Connect. Also known as the main Distribution Frame. The building backbone and which connections to the campus backbone cables are made.
Campus Distributor This is also known by the international term, Main Cross-Connect.
Campus Backbone This is the cable between buildings that share their Data Communication facilities.
Coax Cable A cylindrical transmission line comprised of a conductor centred inside a metallic tube or shield, separated by a dielectric material, and covered by an insulating jacket.
Cross Connect A facility allowing the termination of cable elements and their interconnections using Patch Leads or Jumpers.
Crosstalk The unwanted noise from one channel to another. Usually expressed in 'decibeld'.
Data Communications The movement of encoded information by some form of electric transmission. With fibre optic transmission, the Data begins as an electrical signal, converted to light, then back again to an electrical signal.
Distributor An area where a collection of Components exist (eg Patch Panels, Patch Leads) which is used to interconnect cables.
Fibre Cable A single, separate optical transmission element characterised by a core and a cladding.
Floor Distributor Also known by its international term Horizontal Cross-Connect. This is where the Horizontal Cable radiates from. A FD is usually found on each floor of a Main Building.
Foil Shielded Twisted Pair (FSTP) Twisted Pair Cable but with an overall foil shield surrounding the four pairs.
Horizontal Cabling The cabling between and including the telecommunications outlet and the horizontal cross connect.
Hubs Equipment that serves as a central point for distribution within a network.
Jack (RJ) Often referred incorrectly as RJ45. RJ means Registered Jack. Also known as a Socket. It's a device into which a plug is inserted.
Link An end to end transmission path provided by the cabling infrastructure.
Mbit/s - Mb/s Megabits per second
Modular Jack See JACK
Modular Plug A connector which has 4, 6 or 8 contacts and is inserted into a Jack.
Near End Crosstalk Also known as NEXT, is the crosstalk measured at the end from which the disturbing signal is transmitted.
Telecommunications Outlet A fixed device where the horizontal cable terminates. Also known as an information outlet.
Patch Panel A connecting hardware with a series of jacks in which a plug is inserted to make an electrical signal.
Patch Leads A length of cable with connectors on one or both ends used to join telecommunication links at a cross connect.
Return Loss Noise or interference caused by impedance discontinuities along the transmission line at various frequencies.
STP Shielded Twisted Pair cable.
Telecommunication An enclosed space for housing telecommunications Closet equipment, cable terminations, and cross connect cabling.
Topology The physical or logical layout of links and nodes in a network.
Voice Communication The transmission of spoken/verbal information as an electrical signal. Compared to most Data Communication, voice is less demanding on the performance of the cable used in the system.

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Last revised: Sunday, 20 April 1997