Re: Datacomm infrastructure RESPONSES
From: Daniel Nachbar (
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 09:20:37 -0500
Somehow I missed the original post.  But the issue is important enough that
I'll make a late reply.  After 10 years with the phone company,
I have just 3 words for you about infrastructure:

        conduit, conduit, conduit

Conduit (or ducts or pipes as some folks call them) will buy you nearly
infinite flexibility in the future, the value of which will increase over time.
In contrast ANY data wires you install today will depreciate.

Also a conduit system does not need to be complete at the outset to be a good
investment.  What you are trying to do is avoid future expense and mess.
So put the conduit in now where it will be difficult to run wires after
construction.  The labor cost savings for doing conduit at the time of
new construction, as opposed to later, are easily 5 to 1 (maybe 10 to 1.)

Between buildings - We have 3" mains with a 2" feeder to each building. To keep
        initial costs down, our runs were unfinished: they ended outside the
        buildings and were just capped.  Total cost - about $200 per unit.

        Do it NOW, while the utility trench is open.  Just imagine
        trying to get consensus to run a trencher through everyone's garden
        10 or 15 years from now.  Forget it. You may never use the pipes, but
        just by being there, they will give you huge negotiating leverage with
        the utilites when the day comes to talk about new services.

        If you can swing it, run 2 PARALLEL underground conduit systems -
        1 for data, 1 for electricity.
        The deregulation of the power business is going to make bulk purchase
        of electricity a big deal.  As with data, bypassing the monopoly's
        infrastructure will be the key.  Without the infrastructure, you
        are stuck with what the monopoly will offer.  Also, depending upon your
        site, you may want to have a solar farm or some such.  A big problem
        will be getting the juice to the units. (For safety reasons, you
        can't put power and data in the same pipe.  And the problem doesn't go
        away with fiber because you don't want to be sticking your hand into a
        high voltage pipe when working on the fiber.)

Within buildings - Vertical runs are much more important than horizontal runs.
        Drilling top and bottom plates is a real pain in the neck.
        So at the very least, put a 1" or 2" vertical run of plastic pipe
        from the entrance point (presumbly in the basement) to each floor.
        Cost, maybe $50.  But it will save you endless drilling etc.  If
        you want to go "whole hog" you can run a conduit to an empty box next
        to each power outlet in the house.  I have a 2100 square foot unit
        and had this done for about $2,500.  Not for everyone, but then I am
        CONSTANTLY rigging gadgets and haven't drilled a single hole in 3 years.

If you need more detail, I'd be happy to kibitz about anyone's site.

Dan Nachbar
dan [at]
Pioneer Valley Cohousing at Cherry Hill
Amherst MA

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