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Telco and Data - Electrician or Registered Cabler?

Need some data or phone cables and outlets installed in your home or business?
Moved into a unit complex and been told your service is active but your line is dead?

Who should you call? If you think Electrician, you may want to think some more.

Performing Telco and Data work must only be performed by a Registered Cabler, in most cases by one holding what's known as Open Registration with appropriate endorsements such as S for structured (data) cabling, F for fibre work, and C for coaxial cable (HFC) style work (this excludes Free to Air installers who do not need to be registered to install coaxial cables for TV antennas), all of which is stated on their Cabling Providers Registration card, which they must be able to produce when requested to do so.

Registration shows you are competent to perform such work, or, at least it should, but if engaging an Electrician, that might not always be the case as you are about to find out.

A common misconception by the average person is that Electricians can automatically do this type of work, the truth is very different, even Electricians need to hold Open Cabling Registration if they are going to perform Telco and Data work.

*Cabling performed by unregistered persons is punishable by on the spot fines of over $2000, and court issued fines that can exceed $90,000, include a criminal record, and the risk of the removal of all that illegally installed cabling and outlets.

* For the purpose of this article, a Registered Cabling Provider will mean a Registered Cabler who specialises in, and only performs, Telco and Data related work, and, who is not an Electrician.

If you think Electricians are more experienced, consider this, upon competently completing the training course, you can not normally automatically attain registration and become a Registered Cabler, you have to prove yourself in the field, for 360 hours worth of cabling work directly supervised by an experienced Registered Cabler, and which can not be all the same type of work, you have to also prove you worked on IDF's, MDF's, in commercial and residential, and some other variation of works, it's much more than running data cables and terminating wall sockets or patch panels.

This means when you call an Open Registered Cabling Provider, you are assured they have actual real world experience in installing, repairing, and maintaining, telecommunications and data networks before they are allowed to go out and work unsupervised and on their own.

However, there exists certain exemption loopholes that Electricians can use, thus avoiding performing the 360 hours of supervised works, and they can obtain immediate registration - without having to have performed any previous Telco or Data work, the only experience they might ever of had, is what they played with in the two week training course - where most of that is spent on WH&S, EP laws, and other regulations like Wiring Rules.

So do you hire an Electrician, who may have little to no experience outside the classroom? Or a non-Electrician Registered Cabling Provider who has had the same training, but also had to prove over time and satisfy Registrars they can competently perform the work?

In fairness, also consider that some Electricians who are also Registered Cablers, do perform a bit of Telco cabling work, in particular for builders in new estates whilst the dwellings are under construction, but most of them only ever do the odd occasional Telco or Data job, where as Registered Cabling Providers only ever perform Telco and Data work.

There are currently five ACMA authorised registrars, you can visit their respective websites to find a Registered Cabler, or to verify your technician is in fact (currently) registered, and, has the required endorsements (as previously mentioned earlier in this article) allowing them to perform the work you need to be performed.

Australian Cabler Registration Service (ACRS)
BICSI Registered Cablers Australia Pty Ltd (BRCA)
TITAB Australia Cabler Registry Services (TITAB)
Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL)
Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA)

Lastly, cowboys need to be weeded out, if you have concerns about cabling work performed by someone, first take it up with them, but if you don't get a satisfactory outcome, or, have seen cabling work you think is dangerous or is a hazard, or you see a cabler has exceeded their legal authority by accessing the Telstra, Optus, NBN side of things, like in Telco service pits or any network asset that is not on your property, you should contact the ACMA because in all likelihood, they are not Registered Cablers and could be doing more damage, than good. Registered Cablers know where the demarcation points are, and none of them are on public land, or any land but your own.

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