CITNet 2000 Standards


CITNet 2000 utilizes well known, established industry standards and best practices for structured cabling in order to provide the highest quality networks at Caltech. These standards are updated from time to time as newer standards become available (e.g., Gigabit, 10G, 100G, wireless b/g/n, etc.), technology improvements allow improved functionality (e.g., fiber connectors, Cat 5, 5E, 6, etc.), cost is driven down, or campus demand warrants. Note that these standards are subject to change without notice, so before starting any job project managers should check with VDN for the latest standards.

At the beginning of the CITNet 2000 project in 1997, we evaluated a number of structured cabling system vendors and standardized on the Panduit line. Consistent use of Panduit products has provided a number of benefits:

  • Panduit provides a 25 year PanGen System Warranty on parts, labor, and performance, when we use certified solutions.
  • Corning provides a 25 year LANscape System Warranty on parts, labor and performance, when installed as a certified solution.
  • The Caltech Electric Shop is trained and certified in Panduit (copper) and Corning (fiber) installation.
  • We minimize our spares inventory and diversity by standardizing.
  • System maintenance, diagnosis, and repair are simplified.

As in other fields, specialized terminology and acronyms are used to aid in discussion and reduce document length. If you encounter a term you are not familiar with, please browse our terminology page to gain an understanding of the term.

Published Standards

The following national and industry standards must apply to all voice and data network facilities designed, operated, managed, and maintained by VDN:

  • Telecommunications Industry Association
    • TIA-526-14: Fiber Optic Communications Subsystem Test Procedures - Multimode
    • TIA-526-7: Fiber Optic Communications Subsystem Test Proceures - Single Mode
    • TIA-568-C.0: Generic Telecommunications Cabling for Customer Presmises
    • TIA-568-C.1-2009: Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard (Supersedes 568-B.1)
    • TIA-568-C.2-2009: Balanced Twisted-Pair Telecommunications Cabling and Components Standards (Supersedes 568-B.2)
    • TIA-568-C.3-2008: Optical Fiber Cabling Components Standard (Supersedes 568-B.3)
    • TIA-568-C.4-2011: Broadband Coaxial Cabling and Components Standard
    • TIA-569-B-2004: Commercial Building Stands for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces
    • TIA-598-C: Optical Fiber Cable Color Coding
    • TIA-607-B: Generic Telecommunications Bonding and Grounding for Customer Presmises
    • TIA-EIA-606-A: Administration Standard for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure
    • TIA-TSB-140: Additional Guidelines for Field Testing Length Loss and Polarity of Optical Fiber Cabling Systems
  • Electronics Industry Alliance
    • EIA/ECA-310-E: Cabinets, Racks, Panels, and Associated Equipment
  • National Electrical Code
    • NFPA -70 (National Fire Protection Association)

Collectively these are sometimes referred to as the "568 standards". Copies of these standards may be ordered from Global Engineering Documents. Caltech project managers should contact VDN directly to obtain copies of these.

Communication Standards

Additionally, all data networks must strictly conform to the following approved network protocol and interface standards. Draft standards are not acceptable.

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
    • 802.3-2008: Ethernet
    • 802.3at-2009: DTE Power Enhancements
    • 802.3au-2006: Isolation requirements for Power Over Ethernet
    • 802.3bc-2009: Ethernet Organizationally Specific type, length, values
    • 802.1x-2008: Port Based Network Access Control
    • 802.11 (all protocols): Standards for Information Technology - Telecommunications and Information Exchange Between Systems - Local and Metropolitan Area Networks

Supplemental Information

The standards above generally set the minimum levels or expectations when designing and deploying network facilities. Within the standards there are local choices to be made and room for requirements above the minimum. This section lists the known deviations from, choices within, or exceptional requirements beyond the published standards.


  • 6.4: Copper cross connects are not used on all projects and are project specific. The maximum allowed distance for a copper pull-through cable is 85 m (278 ft). Splices are not permitted.
  • 7.2.1: Fiber connections shall be run from MDF to IDFs direct without cross connects to facilitate 100Gbps deployment.
  • 7.2.1: A two tier star network topology is utilized at Caltech.Tier 1is the campus backbone system. Tier 2 is the building MDF to IDF distribution system.
  • 7.4.a: Supported unshielded twisted pair on campus include Category 6, Category 6a and Category 7.
  • 7.4.b: 850 nm 50/125xc2xb5m laser optimized OM4 fiber to be utilized on campus for multimode fiber applications. 62.5/125xc2xb5m is no longer installed on campus.
  • 8.1: A mimum of 2 outlets per work area (faceplate). Exceptions are as follows:
    • Dorm bedroom facilities shall have 1 outlet per pillow and 1 voice port per room.
    • Wireless access points shall have 1 outlet per access point.
    • Locations with VoIP phones should consider a minimum of 3 outlets per work area where line rate data transfers are required.
    • Locations with traditional phone service (POTS) require a minimum of 3 outlets per work area.
    • Wall phones shall use a single outlet.
  • 8.1: All ports are live, CITNet does not install inactive ports for later activation (the exception is Broad Lab)
  • 8.1: UTP cabling shall be plenum rated.
  • 8.3: The maximum horizontal cable length shall be 85 m (278 ft), independent of media type. Splices are not permitted.
  • 8.4: Recognized Cabling:
    • Supported unshielded twisted pair on campus include Category 6, Category 6a and Category 7.
    • 850 nm 50/125xc2xb5m laser optimized OM4 fiber to be utilized on campus for multimode fiber applications. 62.5/125xc2xb5m is no longer installed on campus. Strand count of 2 or higher. Fiber to the desktop is not utilized on campus at this time.
    • Single mode optical fiber shall utilize a strand count of 2 or higher. Fiber to the desktop is not utilized on campus at this time.
  • 9.1: Caltech has standardized on the Panduit Mini-Comm Executive outlet system. Exceptions to this are for specialized application only and must be approved prior to inclusion to construction documents.
  • 9.3: Open office cabling systems are not utilized on campus at this time.


  • 5.5.1: Cord cables shall be plenum rated for all applications.
  • 5.7.1: T568B shall be utilized for all UTP terminations.


  • Room specific comments are to apply to both MDF and IDFs.
  • 3.1: Telecommunications diversity shall be provided to all buildings.
  • 4.2: All equipment and construction shall comply with Seismic Zone 4 building requirements.
  • 4.3: Reiterate - Mechanical fixtures not related to the support of the entrance facility should not be installed in, pass through, or enter the telecommunications entrance facility.
  • 4.5.2: No less than 2 conduits, 4" in diameter, shall provide the data point of connection per service source for the building and terminate directly in the building MDF.
  • 5.2.1: MDF location shall be in the footprint of the building's upper floors and preferably centrally located on the floor.
  • Plywood shall only be used to support Campus Card Swipe Access and for locations requiring conventional phone service (POTS). Plywood shall be only large enough to support the required services. At no time shall plywood be installed in such a manner to cover a wall of the MDF or IDF.
  • Treatments
    • Floors shall be sealed bare concrete or vinyl composite tile and anti-static in nature.
    • Walls shall be painted, light in color.
    • Ceiling shall be painted.
  • Lighting shall not be occupancy sensor controlled.
  • Suspended ceilings shall not be utilized in wiring closets.
  • Door is to open to public hallway. Access to wiring closets through occupied offices, lab space or other shared use is unacceptable.
  • All equipment and construction shall comply with Seismic Zone 4 building requirements.
  • 6.2.2: Refer to 7.11.2
  • Room Size and location, TC shall serve the floor it is located on and a TC is required for each floor in a building.
  • 6.3.2: Refer to 7.11.2
  • 7.2.1: A minimum of one work outlet (faceplate) per wall in office and one work outlet per chair/desk. Greater density is required to meet end user requirements.
  • 7.3.2: Conduit of 0.75" shall be used for work outlets containing 2 cables. Conduit of 1.25" shall be used for work outlets containing 6 or fewer cables.
  • 7.12.1: Equipment Rooms shall not house, contain or support active electronics.
  • 8.10 - stopped reading, page 92.

Caltech Standards

  • Faceplates are the same color as electric outlets within a space; typically buff or white, but could vary; jacks are the same color for site installation (gray typically, white allowable); Panduit Mini-Com Executive series.
  • There is no color differentiation between telephone and data jacks.
  • Entry and riser fiber shall be armored, plenum rated, Corning Freedom. We generally specify a mix (bundle) of both singlemode and multi-mode (50/125xc2xb5m OM4); singlemode shall be laser optimized; VDN will specify the exact strand count and mix for each fiber run.
  • Fiber cans are always installed at the top of a rack; copper terminations are below the fiber can(s).
  • Fiber insert panels utilized in high density MDFs and Campus Primary Wiring Centers shall support 24 strands of fiber, using LC connectors, unless otherwise stated by the project.
  • Fiber insert panels utilized in low density MDFs and IDFs shall support 12 strands of fiber, using LC connecors, unless otherwise stated by the project.
  • Innerduct should be used to protect fiber. Innerduct shall not be installed in conduits.
  • All copper cabling is PanGen Category 6; at some point in the future we will standardize on Augmented Cat 6 (Cat 6A).
  • All copper cabling is yellow; there is no differentiation between telephone and data.
  • Patch cords used in the closets are color coded by function. The colors are:
    • Data (copper): yellow
    • Voice (copper): white
    • Data (singlemode fiber): yellow
    • Data (bend insensitive singlemode fiber): yellow
    • Data (multi-mode fiber - 62.5/125xc2xb5m): orange
    • Data (multi-mode laser optimized fiber - 50/125xc2xb5m): teal/aqua
    • Data (copper, crossover): red
    • Data (copper, serial - not network): green
  • TBD: Caltech labeling standard
  • Copper cables are terminated in the T568B configuration (same as AT&T 258A)
  • All cable must be plenum rated cable only; even where not required (data only; phone riser and backbone still uses non-plenum)
  • Two post racks (19" telecom, relay): Chatsworth (model TBD)
  • Four post racks: Chatsworth Adjustable QuadraRack, 19" wide, depth specified per project.
  • 4 inch vertical ducts between closets
  • Electrical requirements are quite dependent upon the type of facility and what equipment will be necessary. Specific requirements need to be developed for each building. However as a general rule, for an MDF, at least 3 dedicated circuits of 30A, 208V, and 4 dedicated circuits of 20A, 120V are necessary for data services alone. Non-data services, such as Card Swipe Access or Video Surveillance, shall utilize their own dedicated circuits. As a general rule, IDFs will require somewhat less.
  • Entrances to TCs must be from public spaces, building corridors, exterior, etc. It is not permissible to enter through a lab, clean room, class room, rest room, janitor closet, or other private space. This is necessary for:
    • fire safety
    • ability to access equipment at all hours without disturbing occupants, suiting up (e.g., clean room), or maintaining or accessing another key
    • ability to move large equipment with hand trucks and other tools.
  • TCs must be within the footprint of the of the floor above, preferably centrally located on the floor. Efforts to stack TCs above one another from floor to floor is strongly encouraged.
  • TCs to be located in areas accessible by hand truck or other wheeled conveyance.
  • As a rule of thumb, TCs are not to be located on the roof of a building or external to the structure supported.
  • TCs shall not be external to the building or accessed from outside of the building (e.g., neighboring building, steam tunnels, storage shed).
  • Non-telecommunicatons utilities or services shall not enter or transit TCs.
  • The Caltech wireless network supports b and g variants at this time only; n support may be implemented in the future.
  • Wireless networking is not a replacement for a wired network, wireless networking is a supplementary service. Consult with IMSS VDN for wireless design and deployment guidelines as they are not in written form yet. Wireless AP installation density is being altered to support a new deployment model.
  • Wireless spectrum in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz ranges are reserved for use for Campus Wireless Networking for end user devices and no other services (e.g. BMS controls, lighting controls, HVAC controls...).

Information for Project Managers

Construction projects must assume all costs associated with deploying network service, including cabling, new equipment, and modifications to the backbone and other facilities not in the new construction.

When performing renovations to existing buildings, the trend is to collapse small, older TCs into a single modern MDF/IDF per floor. This may make some space available, but may also require installation of new cable. Project Managers must also consider how to provide continuous service to other building occupants during the renovation.

For design and construction, no distinction is made between voice and data applications. The cabling and support requirements are all the same. There will be some costs differences, though, as ports are allocated to the different applications. Projects are required to purchase any new telephone instruments needed as well as PBX circuit packs needed to support them.

Only suitably qualified and approved contractors, including the Caltech Electric Shop, are permitted to install, modify, or maintain voice and data cabling and support infrastructure. Unqualified personnel will not be permitted access to any CITNet facilities. Please consult with VDN ahead of time to obtain the current approved contractor list.

Wireless networks are deployed in all new construction, in addition to (not in place of) wired networks. Wireless is no substitute for wired. Issues are: security, performance, interference, fairness. The VDN design goal for wireless uses a 50ft. radius for AP placement. Depending on the construction of the building, and other factors, a higher or lower density may be required.

VDN is not responsible for providing voice or data facilities for construction contractors, trailers, etc., during on-campus projects. The project must pay for any facilities or services it uses and acquire these from outside vendors.

VDN does not provide voice or data services to buildings under construction. We provide connectivity and support when all of the following conditions are met:

  • the building has been turned over to Caltech to operate
  • the as-built drawings and other test results, as required by our standards, have been provided to VDN
  • permanent doors and CITNet-approved locks have been installed in all TCs
  • the cable plant, TCs, etc., have been inspected and accepted by VDN as meeting our standards
  • building power and HVAC are operating nominally

VDN does provide:

  • standards for cabling and facilities; we can provide a customized 27 0000 document for your project, with sufficient advance notice
  • approval of workmanship
  • approval of submittals
  • consulting (on an as available basis)
  • budget estimates (given sufficient requirements definition)
  • list of qualified, acceptable cabling installers
  • accept/reject cabling work
  • network electronics installation
  • building support (once live)

VDN does not provide:

  • project design for new construction
  • day to day supervision of cabling or other contractors
  • project management
  • budget management
  • schedule management

For other IMSS VDN policies, please see our network policy page.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • May I have a key to the network closet?
    A: No; there are no "user serviceable" parts inside. Longer answer: Caltech shop employees may check out a day use key for the purpose of repairing non-network facilities that happen to be in CITNet spaces; a record of key issuance will be made. Clickfor detailed information about CITNet spaces.
  • May I install a cable?
    A: No; IMSS VDN maintains a list of approved vendors (including the Caltech Electric Shop) who are allowed to perform work on the cabling. This maintains the 25-year warranty we have, insures a quality installation, and allows us to maintain current configuration information. The list of approved vendors changes from time to time as vendors are added or removed; please contact VDN for the current list.
  • May cables be installed in a faceplate (user end) that terminate in different patch panels (IDF end)?
    A: No. All cables in a single faceplate must terminate in the same patch panel.
  • If delivery time for an item is long, may I substitute a similar item?
    A: Not without prior written approval from IMSS VDN. Note that VDN will not allow substitution if it will void the Panduit warranty in any way.
  • How much noise does the installed equipment generate?
    A: This is a difficult question to answer objectively. It depends on the location, type of construction, and type of equipment placed in the closet, among other factors. In the smaller closets, the workgroup switches (actually their fans) are the predominant noise generators. (Remember, a fan that doesn't make noise moves no air!) While these aren't loud, they probably aren't suitable for colocation with office workers either. It's best to observe an installation and judge for yourself. Equipment in the larger closets and MDFs can generate considerable noise.
  • Why require termination and testing of all strands in a bundle of fiber optic cable?
    A: If the strands are not both terminated and tested, how do you know they are viable? Fiber optic cable, despite the precautions of the manufacturers and installers, is still a fragile cable. Unless all the fiber stands are tested, which requires the fiber be terminated on both ends, the viability of the cable is unknown. Flaws in manufacturing, accidents during transportation, mistakes during installation (including tight bends, too much pulling force, etc.) will only be discovered during testing. The system suppliers (Panduit, Systemax, etc.) require termination and documented testing in order to provide a system warranty (usually 20 years, or so). Therefore, there is no value to installing a fiber optic cable without terminating and testing all the strands.

Version 20120828-1600