Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mind the Gap... Between VoIP and Analog

Around five years ago my company made the decision that at some point in the future we would be replacing our phone system with a VoIP system.  As part of that decision we decided that it was no longer smart to run separate voice and data wiring on new projects.  This led us to a problem of how to make the connection between data patch panels and the existing voice 66 blocks.

Unfortunately we didn't go straight to the solution we are using now.  Our first solution was to take voice cross connect wire and terminate it with an 8p8c connector on one end and then punch down the other end to the 66 block.  For one or two links, this solution worked ok, but scaling the solution ended up with a rat's nest of cross connect cables.  

The next solution was basically the same as the first only we using CAT6 patch cables with one 8p8c cut off.  It was easier to keep the cabling neater, but it still didn't scale well as the thicker cables got in the way on the 66 blocks.

Finally we came to the solution that I want to share.  We started buying Panduit 24 port 1 pair voice panels.  These panels have a RJ-21 connector on the back that splits a 25 pair cable into 24 RJ45 jacks with 1 pair connected to pins 4 and 5 of each jack.  When combined with a 25-pair amphenol cable and a prewired 66 block, it makes a very modular and convenient way to bridge the gap between data and analog voice cabling. In this configuration I often put the voice panel with my switches as it serves as a "voice switch" in the rack. 

During the last five years this has served well and I believe that it will also help support our large analog deployment that will remain with our new VoIP system.  Hopefully our trial and error will help someone else out.

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