The University Record, January 24, 2000

U adopts new wiring standard

By Bruce Spiher
Information Technology Division

The University has adopted a new wiring standard for future construction and renovation that supports the transfer of high-speed data over the campus network. The wiring standard is the result of an analysis of the current wiring on campus and recommendations made by the University’s Information Technology Federation Executive Committee (ITFX).

The ITFX Network Working Group, a committee of U-M technical experts, examined the adequacy of existing wiring and its capability for delivering new high-speed services.

“Committee members felt that we needed a wiring architecture for the University that will allow people to freely move about campus and receive the same level of bandwidth wherever they are,” says Dan Kjos, manager of ITCom Engineering and a member of the group. “All locations currently using category 3 wiring are limited to the lowest Ethernet speed and cannot move to 100-million bits-per-second (Mbps) or 1000 Mbps speeds.”

Cable categories define the size, the number of wire pairs, how they are constructed and insulated, and the bandwidth capability of the cable, among other specifications. The new standard recommended by the ITFX requires three category 5e cables, as a minimum.

The category 5e standard was developed by the American National Standards Institute and an alliance between the Telecommunications Industry Association and the Electronics Industry Association. The 5e cable supports one-gigabit networking topologies.

“Building wiring infrastructure isn’t easy to replace,” says Mark Weishan, director of Unit Data Systems at LS&A. “It has to remain functional for a long time. It’s clear that the industry is strongly positioned behind the new standard. I think that in the future we’ll see data transfer rates that would astonish us today, such as 10 gigabits per second, or even more, being delivered over this type of cable.”

Members of the Network Working Group, in addition to Kjos and Weishan, are: Rich Boys (School of Information), Roy Hockett (Information Technology Division), John Hufziger (Financial Operations), Dan Maletta (Engineering and Media Union), Roger Manor (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), Gary Munce (Survey Research Center), Jeff Ogden (Merit), Andy Palms (ITD), Pradip Patel (ITD), Steve Sarrica (Housing/Residential Computing) and Chuck Singer (Medical Center Information Technology). Mike McPherson of LS&A and Al McCord of ITD sponsored the Network Working Group on behalf of the ITFX.