Low Voltage Cabling Infrastructure: Definitions and Solutions

November 7, 2022

NTI’s Role 


NTI’s consulting and design services often begin with an evaluation of the desired functionality of a given facility before we get to the low voltage cabling infrastructure. The evaluation might include helping ownership define what technology and communications systems will be required along with a preliminary budget for those systems. NTI services most often include designing and documenting the required pathways and spaces for the low voltage cabling infrastructure system. In coordination with the design team, NTI’s documentation clarifies the required components of the structured cabling system. 

Along with the cabling infrastructure design, NTI will often provide a design for the security systems (CCTV, access control, intrusion detection), the audio visual (AV) systems, and for the wireless systems (WiFi, DAS), as necessary.  Each of these systems share access to the structured cabling design.  NTI services continue after design, throughout the construction phase to respond to requests for clarification and product and system questions.  NTI services also include regular visits to the site to confirm our design intent.

NTI can also manage the procurement process for selecting the vendors who provide low voltage systems hardware and installation. And as necessary, we can provide vendor installation oversight.

Engineer Installing structured cabling


What is a Cabling Infrastructure System?

It all starts with the cabling infrastructure which includes more than just the fiber optic and category/copper cabling.  Source cables come into the building at the MDF room (Main Distribution Frame) which provides a base for the cabling ‘backbone’ which will travel throughout the building. As the specific systems’ backbone cabling leaves the MDF room, it is directed to numerous enclosures and outlets along the way to an IDF (Intermediate Distribution Frame) room.  Depending on the size of the project, there can be one or dozens of IDF rooms along with the hundreds or thousands of  outlets behind video displays, in the floor under a conference table, in the ceiling space for Wireless Access Points or in walls for a specific use.

There are two types of cabling infrastructure systems found in commercial and governmental developments - high voltage and low voltage. The high voltage cabling carries electricity to standard 120 volts. High voltage cabling can carry hundreds of volts and therefore carries the risk of  electrocution. Therefore, the design and installation is governed by specific codes and requirements that verify that it is designed and installed by licensed engineers and electrical professionals for life safety purposes.   

The low-voltage cabling infrastructure (a.k.a. structured cabling) is a separate structured cabling system which is classified by the National Electrical Code as electrical systems that operate below 50 Volts".    

MDF Room for structured cabling


All Systems included in a Low Voltage Cabling Infrastructure System

Technology consultants, like Network Technologies, Inc, (NTI) design the low voltage cabling infrastructure system.  These systems are installed by implementation professionals, such as NTI’s parent company, Automated Systems Design, Inc. (ASD).  The design and installation of all low voltage systems are classified under Division 27 and Division 28 of the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) MasterFormat standard.

There are dozens of  systems that might use the low voltage cabling infrastructure.  Systems  commonly found across many industries are:

  • WiFi
  • Phones
  • CCTV
  • TV
  • Digital Signage
  • Point of Sale
  • Distributed Antenna

Many of our larger clients employ the staff to manage the procurement process of all systems, and the required oversight of the vendor implementation during construction. Not all clients have the personnel available to conduct the procurement process and the required construction oversight. This is why NTI offers procurement management and vendor oversight services, as requested.  

Engineer fixing structured cabling wires


Of the various systems that are part of a low voltage system, the cabling infrastructure is quite likely the least exciting to the layman.  However, it is the necessary high-performance platform that supports every one of the more exciting technologies, whichever technology that it may be. A professionally designed cabling infrastructure will save an owner money because an excellent design coordinated with the design team will help prevent costly errors, delays, and change orders.  

NTI’s design team is led by our principals and/or subject matter specialists to address each project’s unique vision. They lead our designers and drafting professionals assigned to each project. As students of the industry, each principal, specialist and designer can be both teacher and student insofar as we help educate each other with the objective of providing a best in class design each and every time.

If you are interested in more information, please visit our website or contact us.

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