The foundation is the establishment of a common vertical optical transport network that extends from the basement to the roof and appears in every telecom closet. The logical heart of the transport network would be in the meet-me room, where all the telecom providers from the outside world appear. Because many operations control systems and smart building apps are now housed in secured cloud services, there may not be a need to allocate space for servers on-site. From a service protection perspective, the physical cabling and active electronics for the vertical transport need to be segregated and identified separate from tenant networks.
After the vertical foundation, every floor requires a horizontal infrastructure that extends from each floor’s telecom closet to wiring zones distributed throughout the ceiling. Why in the ceiling? Simply put, most everything that is part of building automation/operations resides in the plenum (space between drop ceiling and floor above) or originates in the plenum to appear on the drop ceiling or is fed down and out of a wall. Wiring zones are sensible because they limit the amount of cables pulled from the telecom closet to many of the distributed services across an overall floor. Instead, smart building services can cable or wirelessly connect to nearest wiring zone point. The need here to segregate, identify, and protect this horizontal infrastructure is very critical to ensure that when construction contractors are gutting a floor in preparation for a remodel or a new tenant that they don’t rip it out. Identification strategies can parallel what fire protection system contractors do.
Finally, enablement of select network services that smart buildings applications and select tenant-facing services will use to ride on top of the physical network. Most services use IP protocol on top of a wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or cellular connection. This design assumption implies that every zone across the floor can offer these services. Also, arrival of services can be staggered over time, as long as the physical transport exists, to manage the budget costs. For example, step one might be an optically attached SD-LAN transport with Wi-Fi AP to follow and, finally, with a digitally attached cellular small cell or DAS last.
Since sizing the CRE backbone is an important consideration, we would like to offer a few thoughts.
- Invest in plenty of excess capacity in the optical and composite optical paths. 5G and next-gen Wi-Fi are coming, and both will use plenty of fiber and power.
- Since installation labor is always a big cost component, investing with a time horizon of at least 10 years of projected growth on CRE backbone capacity will limit expensive upgrades.