We first published The Top Ten FAQs (frequently asked questions) in August of last year. Since that time, eight of the most common questions remain the same, with two new questions entering the top 10.
In commercial facilities, the low voltage systems are also referred to as the Division 27/28 systems as defined by the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) Master Format standard. The specifications for building projects include Division 27 which cover Communications Systems, and Division 28 which addresses Electronic Safety and Security Systems.
The structured cabling system is the basis for these systems throughout a building or across a campus. And the systems they support include Point of Sale terminals, WiFi system, security systems and audio visual systems.
Top Ten FAQs that NTI Hears
1. What exactly does NTI do? It is no surprise that this has always been one of NTI’s Top Ten questions. We are pure consultants whose sole focus is to provide the best advice, design, procurement and implementation management services for our clients For a more complete answer click on one of the following for an answer. Instead of writing the answer, please click for the answer to NTI Overview, Our Process, Technologies.
2. Is low voltage (or PoE) lighting cost effective for an entire project? This question has become a more familiar one since we first published the Top 10 FAQs. Low voltage LED Lighting (also known as Power over Ethernet Lighting) offers better central/remote control than is available with traditional light bulbs. Examples include dimming, changing colors, and turning on/off without affecting their life cycle. The control capabilities can easily be kicked up a notch with the addition of switches and sensors. The technology is available to provide project wide solutions for specific areas within a building, or for the entire facility. Solutions are available across industries including Education, Healthcare, Hospitality, Industrial, Office, and Retail. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is fair to say that LV /PoE Lighting is emerging as a viable cost effective solution across most markets and in most industries. Significant growth of LV/PoE Lighting is expected over the next few years.
3. How much space is needed for ‘low voltage’ systems? This remains a common FAQ we hear as we begin a project. Space planning is an early priority when we begin a new project ( usually during either Concept or Schematic Design). Depending on the size of the development, there may be a need for miles of cable throughout the building or buildings, so proper sizing and placement of the MDF and IDF rooms is paramount. Rooms sizes vary from about 40 sf to about 300 sf or more depending on what needs to be in the room. Even when NTI is engaged in the latter design stages of a project space planning remains our first objective.
3. Will NTI design the Distributed Antenna System (DAS)? NTI often includes a schematic riser diagram for the Cellular/DAS as part of our base scope services. The design identifies pathways and spaces, and electrical/mechanical requirements if is determined that a DAS is needed, once construction begins . The process is to perform a propagation study based upon design documentation to establish a base system approach. After the structure is significantly in place, this design is then confirmed via testing in the field. The result of this testing can sometimes result in changes to the design but is, more often than not, a verification of same. NTI can coordinate with a specialty DAS vendor to identify the actual system requirements and can include the final design in our drawings, as needed.
5. Does NTI purchase required technology systems? NTI doesn’t actually purchase systems, but we do offer procurement management services to assist the owner with conducting the procurement process. This begins with defining the needed systems to be procured, most often through an RFP process. We develop a detailed RFP, send it to 3 or 4 selected vendors. We then review all received bids with the owner for evaluation and award. If desired, NTI will also provide implementation oversight.
6. Do we need both Wi-Fi and DAS? This question is new to our Top Ten FAQs. WiFi began by providing wireless access for PCs, and evolved to providing it for mobile devices over the last 5 years. DAS began as an antenna on a building to bring better cell signal for large venues, and evolved to having affordable solutions for much smaller venues. Because of their evolution, Wi-Fi and DAS solutions now overlap coverage, but neither technology is currently making the other one obsolete . One of the reasons this has elevated to a Top 10 question is likely the recent approval of CBRS by the FCC. Please refer to the NTI Autumn newsletter’s lead article, which announced the FCC’s approval of CBRS.
7. Which is better – a Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) or Ethernet (copper) to the Guestroom? This question is most poignant in a discussion of hotel guestroom technology. For quite a few years, NTI has regularly provided an assessment of these options. There are several factors that play a role: building/campus layout, available floor space, total cost of ownership, and support/maintenance to name a few. NTI has designed more GPONs over time, however, we also regularly design and implement the traditional copper solution.
8. When should a Technology Consultant be engaged to begin? This is one of 2 questions in the Top 10 FAQs that weren’t in our original list. The question is asked often in our AIA Accredited Lunch and Learn presentation. The simple answer is, “during concept or schematic design”. Two reasons stand out – budgets and space planning, both extremely important issues. And both are best addressed early in the project to avoid wasted time and unnecessary expense.
9. Does NTI provide As-Built drawings? Within our specifications, NTI requires the contractor to prepare and provide as-built drawing documentation, and we will review to ensure the content is sufficient for ownership use. As-builts are part of an installation’s close-out documents which also include final test reports, copies of programming software, original copies of any software/hardware programs, labeling list, and product and warranty information.
10. Exactly what is Sound Masking? Sound masking is the practice of injecting white noise into a space to cover the existing sounds in that space. This is of particular value in open workstation environments and other open spaces where people congregate and converse. Essentially, when background sounds are harder to distinguish, they’re easier to tune out. For a more complete answer to this, read the article What is Sound Masking?, by Abe Fleming.
We receive a wide variety of inquiries regarding technology in general. Our Top 10 FAQs are the ones we hear most often but if there is an answer to another question which is not addressed above, please contact us via e-mail at TheNTIteam@nticonsultants.com, or call us at 678-460-3936.