Certifying the Cables

Ed Wenck | Apr 25, 2019
The format of the keynotes at CEDIA’s traveling Tech Summits is consistent: The question “What can we expect in the next one to three years” is posed to a panel of industry folks. That panel’s consistent, too – at a recent Tech Summit in Irvine, CA, the discussion was moderated by Eric Bodley of Future Ready Solutions with input from CEDIA’s Giles Sutton, LeGrand’s Chris Kovacek, and Access Networks’ Bryce Nordstrand. But since the specifics of the keynotes are driven by audience participation, no two keynotes are really alike.

The floor’s open for questions nearly out of the gate – but there’s some direction given at the top of the program by Tech Summit founder Mark Cichowski. This particular discussion rapidly turned to the data needs that the modern residence is demanding.

“The home networks we're installing aren't getting less complex,” notes Bodley.

Which brings us to the topic Nordstrand wants to address during this session. “It’s going to be really important to certify every wire in a residential installation,” he says. “Commercial integrators do this and they charge (generally by the drop) for it.”

Certification of a cable is the final step of three processes, says Bodley. “The first is confirmation – is there continuity, is it terminated properly? But that’s not enough. It’s like telling a customer ‘Yes, there are tires on your car,’ without inflating or balancing them or checking for wear.

“The second step is verification – will the wire send the frequency? 

“Certification, though, determines that the cable will actually carry the real-world load. It’s like running all the plumbing at full pressure.”

It’s a bit labor intensive, to be sure – a certification check requires two techs at either end of the cable talking (often via radio) to one another as they move through the home. An errant drywall nail that affects the functionality of a wire won’t be the sheetrock crew’s problem, it’ll be the integrator’s. 

“We have a saying,” says Bodley: “Don’t install a service call.” Problems, he adds, multiply at the speed of data advances.

Selling that extra effort can admittedly result in push-back, as the panel notes, but Sutton – an integrator himself for many years prior to his current gig, explains that it’s all part of “establishing oneself as a trusted design professional.”

Kovacek agrees: “Think about what you were — and what we weren’t — selling five years ago.

“There was a time a lot of us were afraid to pitch multiple wireless access points.”