How to Differentiate Your Cabling Company (Part 2): Telecom Rooms – It’s What you Don’t See that Matters
Envious Telcom Rooms Require more Than Bottom of the Ceiling Skills
In this second post of our 3-part series (you can read the first post here), we’re going to teach you how to build a kick ass Telcom room that will not only impress your client, but also help you land new business.
Dressing the Telecom Room – Reading a Book by Its Cover
Companies these days spend quite a bit of time and resources perfecting their telecom room builds to include beautifully routed 12, 24 and 48 cables. The bundles are accurately combed and routed, waterfalling into perfectly positioned vertical managers on the latest 48-port modular patch panels. There are zero divers or crossed cables, and instead just beautiful craftsmanship. One look and you know this is what separates you from the competition.
Or is it?
Sometimes even in the cabling business it’s true that you can’t read a book by its cover. Pop a ceiling tile and what once appeared to be a beautiful orchestration of art and skill is quickly revealed to be a train wreck of cables coming from all directions before diverging into the telecom room.
What happens above ceiling is what separates the men from the boys in this business. If you want to truly differentiate, you’ll need to take as much pride in your above ceiling craftsmanship as you do in your below ceiling.
Here are a few tips to step up your game take your cabling business to the next level.
1. Separate and organize cables outside the telecom room – The idea here is to consolidate the direction in which the cables are coming from and bring them in together. Now in some cases you cannot bring all the bundles in from one direction, but you can do the same at each entrance point and plan the intersection of the bundles coming from different directions.
You don’t need to dress bundles at this stage with the same detail as what’s visible in the telecom room, but use cable supports to get the cables organized and routed in a workman like manner.
2. Service loops are a statement – While functional and industry best practice service loops can be just as awesome as the neatly bundled cables running along the top of ladder rack. I’ll provide more detail in another “how-to-blog”, but you can do this with (4) 4” J-Hooks installed on an adjacent wall with the hooks oriented in a way to wrap the bundles around and create a perfect loop.
The trick is to get all of your cables going in the same direction, lightly dressed with a 5-10’ out minimum, before beginning the loop and keeping them very tight as they enter and exit towards the telecom room.
3. Install 4” sleeves – After the ceiling grid installation and prior to the grid going up, use a piece of Unistrut anchored to the wall to mount as little as one or as many as needed 4” x 12” pieces of EMT conduit vertically using 4” straps. The conduit should be long enough and placed so that at least 4-6” is below where the ceiling grid will eventually be placed.
Make sure you install bushings to protect cable bundles. I should also point out that these can be pre-fabricated at your shop and most ceiling grid installers will install their grid around your conduit to keep everything nice and clean and the liability out of your court. The last thing you want is to be responsible for replacing grids in the eleventh hour, trust me. Also, be sure and confirm the appropriate fill ratios for the cable you’re installing and make sure you install enough sleeves to stay within those guidelines.
Increasing Your Above Ceiling Quality
While the appearance and aesthetics of your telecom room is important, make sure you’re following manufacturing guidelines on the size and tightness in which you dress bundles, especially higher rated cables like category 6A that can become susceptible to cross talk when tightly bundled together. And don’t forget, to become a true leader in your cabling business, your attention to detail above ceiling should be just as important as it is below.
In the next blog we’ll cover one of the little known key drivers of new and continuing business in the cabling industry: accurate and detailed close-out documentation.
As a former Director of Sales & Estimating, Chris Lee has over 10 years of experience building high performance sales and estimating teams focused on increasing revenue and profit by winning large commercial projects