Smart Building Development and the Changing Network Infrastructure

Smart Building Development & the

Changing Network Infrastructure.

Written by Jeff Dominique, FNT Consulting & Training

Last month our article went in depth on the developing world of GPON networks operating inside buildings. A concept which virtually eliminates the need for extensive inter-building cabling systems, transforming miles of copper cabling infrastructure into just a simple, single circuit fiber backbone. We also discussed CWDM passive technology which makes GPON easier than ever to deploy in buildings.

It is quite apparent that GPON technology has leap-frogged the Division 17 CSI Master Format specifications for new building construction, in that Division 17 still indicates the need for massive conduit and raceway infrastructures to support heavy inter-building cabling. And since CSI revisions only occur every five years or so, the change in infrastructure design will no doubt lag far behind the physical change itself.  

This month we will take a look at the devices that make up a smart building and how network design is adapting to deliver GPON direct to the end users.

What is a Smart Building and how will it shape the future of society

In a day and age when environmental concerns loom deep within our society, the concept of Smart Buildings has become more of a reality. Architects and Engineers, more often than not are being asked what they know about smart building technology.  It only stands to reason that they would be asked such questions because a building that is designed today must be able to last up to 50 plus years.

To help provide answers, several electronic manufacturers have already addressed the means for computerized and remote control of buildings via the Internet.

In today's smart building, it is now possible for a building manager or owner to regulate virtually every energy consuming device straight from their cell phone. Not only can they control environmental aspects of the building, they can also control security and monitor virtually every aspect of their building on-site or remotely.

One of the most important aspects of the Smart Building is that of environmental monitoring to establish trend analysis data, as well as providing zone controls that can minimize wasteful energy consumption.  In order to monitor and establish trends, sophisticated computer programs have been developed to track seasonal changes, social behavior and catastrophic events.

One might think that sensors planted all over a building may take a significant amount of cabling however, with optical CWDM in place it becomes possible to connect to every device with a single optical circuit operating at one specific wavelength.

In the past, standards identified a single method of inter-building cabling, which was given the name "Structured Cabling".  It identified a cabling system based on maximum transmission distances of various mediums as well as the types of electronics that were available at that time.

The cabling structure was dubbed as a Distributed Architecture that consisted of a backbone cable signal that was distributed from the main computer center to various remote telecommunications closets where the signal was read, repeated, amplified and re-directed through a hub, switch or router and on to the end user.

This was how it used to be before fiber optic cable became prevalent in inter-building backbones.  As fiber pushed deeper into the building, standards were re-written to address the new technology.  In standard revisions that followed the original Structured Cabling standard, Centralized Cabling was addressed that took into consideration the extended distances possible when using fiber optics.

The widespread use of SFPs brought on the concept of Active Transceiver Multiplexing when they developed dual wavelength SFPs capable of doubling the allocated bandwidth to a single circuit.  This was a remarkable feat in itself, but it only served to fuel the fire of "what's next".

Distributed Cabling Architecture



What came next was the development of Passive Optical Networking within Local Area Networks, served by a host of SFPs with various wavelengths that could be placed on a single fiber or fiber pair simultaneously, transported to various drop locations and then uniquely separated or De-multiplexed to individual devices.

The concept took off very fast because those who manufactured the switches saw the writing on the wall, which was put there by carrier and service providers, making a conscience decision to drastically expand bandwidth capabilities through the use of fiber optics and CWDM architectures.This only stands to reason when one considers that the growth of the industry itself is based on the number of component ports sold globally on an annual basis.

Because of the public's everlasting thirst for bandwidth, GPON and passive multiplexing are here to stay and growth in regard to these technologies is expected to continue at an outstanding rate in decades to come. Just remember, as bandwidth increases within a circuit, the rules regarding quality and transmission standards will certainly change in complexity and those who offer training to current standards and required methods will become a valuable asset to you.

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