From the December, 2013 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine
Extending the handoff point between public and private networks remains an area largely unstandardized yet of critical importance to user organizations.
by Patrick McLaughlin
The demarcation point is a nearly universally recognized portion of corporate networks and today, even personal residential networks. The “demarc,” as it is commonly called, is most visible in residential networks in the form of the network interface device (NID), which typically is mounted onto a home and is the handoff point between the carrier/service provider’s network and the customer-owned network of the homeowner. In these networks, the NID is the very point at which the service provider’s network ends and the customer’s network begins.
In corporate networks, the situation can be significantly murkier. The confusion is not so much a matter of the point at which the service provider’s network ends; a NID does the job there as well. But from a technical standpoint, the matter can be confusing when the service provider network ends in a space physically distant from where the customer-owned network resides. Take, as a typical example, a demarc inside the basement of a multi-story building. A tenant on the fifth or sixth floor of that building must somehow connect its network–contained within a single floor–to the demarc in the basement.
In most cases, a network and associated cabling project begins with the consideration and consultation of standards related to the system or technology being deployed. In the case of extending a demarcation point into a building so it physically meets a customer-owned network, standards are scant. System specifiers, designers, installers and owners are challenged to plan and carry out such a project.
Stake in the ground
For several years Concert Technologies (www.concerttech.com) has made efforts to shed light on the challenges associated with demarc extension. Concert provides what it describes as technology rollouts nationwide. On its website, the company explains, “We provide, manage and support a worldwide field force of local onsite technicians to deploy technology infrastructure on a nationwide and global scale. This includes the dissemination and relay of technical knowledge quickly and accurately to our onsite Concert techs for the installation and service of each location.”
In 2010 Concert launched a separate brand and service called Demarc Extension Nationwide (www.demarcextension.com), aimed specifically at serving the needs of network owners facing the mostly uncharted waters of extending the demarcation point. When announcing the brand’s establishment, Concert stated, “There are thousands of circuits delivered weekly to organizations across the country, with each circuit requiring a demarc extension. Without the standardization of terms and installation practices, there is a high risk of negative impact to the delivery, performance and maintenance of critical telecommunications circuits and their access to the Internet and other network connections outside of a facility.”
Also at that time, Concert’s and Demarc Extension Nationwide’s founder Dennis Mazaris said, “This has been a problem in the industry for over three decades. With a decade and a half of experience deploying technology nationwide and globally, we have taken the initiative in defining and standardizing a demarc extension–the single most critical cabling component within a facility.”
On its website, Demarc Extension Nationwide provides a significant amount of information that is basic yet difficult to find in standards or other technical documents within the industry. Included among the information is a definition of the term demarc extension, as follows: “The transmission path originating from the interface of the access provider’s side of a telecommunications circuit demarcation point within a premises and ending at the termination point prior to the interface of the edge customer premises equipment [CPE]. This may include in-segment equipment, media converters and patch cords as required to complete the circuit’s transmission path to the edge CPE.”