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University takes high-value approach: a horizontal structured-cabling system supports Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop. (Infrastructure).

When the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) decided to upgrade and standardize its New Orleans LAN and statewide WAN on the Category 6 structured-cabling standard, its computer services team took a "total system" approach. Fifteen campus buildings and more than 20 remote sites around the state have been upgraded to CAT 6--putting LSUHSC at the forefront of the medical, healthcare and education communities' migration to high-bandwidth communications systems and full network integration.

The New Orleans campus encompasses five professional schools, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, allied health professions and graduate studies. In addition, the healthcare services division supports nine centers of excellence for specialized medical research and patient services, as well as nine charity hospitals and several clinics throughout Louisiana. According to network manager Raymond Sonnier, all sites statewide have been networked into a central office in LSUHSC's resource center building.

The horizontal structured cabling system specified to support this massive upgrade is the Integrity (6) system, a copper-based structured-cabling system designed, engineered and manufactured by Belden and Panduit. At LSUHSC, the cabling system provides a framework that supports Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop, as well as a host of high-tech, data-intensive applications, such as distance learning and meeting, teleconferencing (video over IP), telemedicine, digital radiology and medical imaging research.

"In selecting a cabling system and connectivity components, high performance and maximum uptime were important to us," says Sonnier. "We have installed more than 20,000 drops and deployed more than seven-million feet of Belden's Integrity (6) cable and, to my knowledge, there has not been a single instance where cabling has failed or had to be replaced."

The standard connectorization and termination components in the LSUHSC installation include Panduit's TX6 Modular Patch Panels, TX6 Jack Modules and Integrity (6) Bonded-Pair CAT 6 Patch Cords. The end-to-end system has been engineered and fine-tuned for complete interoperability and high-performance signal transmission in current and future CAT 6 applications.

To install and maintain its cabling infrastructure, LSUHSC employs its own full-time enterprise network wiring team. IT network support specialist James Grilletta offers that the project has not been without challenges. Cable routing in the 120-year-old New Orleans Charity Hospital, for example, required penetration of two-foot concrete walls within the 17-story building. In other older structures, the installation team had to devise alternative cable pathways to accommodate the building's layout and architectural structure, while working around modernization improvements, such as dropped ceilings.

"Installation in certain sites was difficult," Grilletta notes, "especially in older buildings where we had to be creative in designing cable pathways." In these kinds of renovation sites, the team utilized cable trays, EMT conduit and inner duct along the cabling routes.

"The cable we deployed (Belden MediaTwist) is somewhat flatter than traditional data cables," he adds, "making it easier to pull through both trays and conduit without tangling or degrading the electrical properties of the cable."

All cables and components are installed to meet TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1 standards. Likewise, all testing is performed in compliance with this standard, and is required to meet and exceed CAT 6 specifications. Both the test results and the cable-management scheme are saved and submitted electronically to the building owner and the LSUHSC office of computer services upon completion of each installation.

To facilitate cable management and maintenance, cables and connectors are color-coded to match each other, with cabling runs labeled on both ends. In the horizontal cross-connect, all terminations are on patch panels. In work areas, all terminations are in securely mounted junction boxes. Cable pathways consist of a primary path above the main hallways of the building, where cabling is routed through continuous support structures (cable trays).

To maintain maximum flexibility for current and future needs, LSUHSC specifies a minimum of three cabling runs per workstation: for voice, data and a multipurpose spare.

In selecting the system for the horizontal cable plant, Sonnier says both cost and value were considered. "In a large, dynamic organization that relies on government funding such as ours, cost is always a consideration. In the final analysis, we decided to standardize on the Integrity (6) CAT 6 system because it was less expensive to buy, install and maintain than a fiber-optic system, while offering a high value proposition in terms of capacity and performance. This project ensures that LSUHSC will have a cabling framework to meet our needs for the next decade, at least."

A complete system

The Mini-Com TX6 Plus Jack Module meets all TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1 Category 6 requirements, including power sum ACR, NEXT, ELFEXT and return loss. The module utilizes GIGA-TX technology, which speeds installation and reduces conductor untwists to less than 1/8". The module terminates 4-pair, 24-22 AWG 100-ohm solid unshielded twisted-pair cable and 24-AWG stranded twisted-pair cable. TX6 Plus Patch Cords feature next-generation stranded cable and enhanced performance modular plugs, and exceed the TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1 Category 6 standard. Each patch cord is compatible with T568A and T568B wiring schemes. DP6 Plus high-performance patch panels meet the latest TIA/EIA specifications for Category 6 and feature the GIGA-PUNCH punchdown termination style on the back of each patch panel. Patch panels are available in 12-, 24-, 48- and 96-port configurations.

For more information from Belden:

For more information from Panduit:
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Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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