To succeed with OSP design, start with the documentation.

The documentation of your outside plant (OSP) design requires a set of deliverables that is constructible, legal, sound, detailed, and legible. Documents with omissions, inaccuracies, or poorly addressed feasibility issues will cause problems in costs, completion, scheduling, serviceability, and safety. Before proceeding with any OSP project, determine the documentation requirements like delivery methods, symbols, terminology, media, and required production time.

In this ninth installment of EC&M's 12-part look at the Second Edition of BICSI's Customer-Owned Outside Plant Manual, we'll discuss the critically important issues surrounding your requirements for design documentation.

Plan for the plans.

First, consider your planned steps in producing a set of deliverables. The following four recommended stages appear in the BICSI manual:

Site survey — At this point, you'll need to gather general information about the existing OSP conditions and begin to determine where to place the proposed OSP facilities.

Field survey — This stage involves drawing detailed notes about the existing field conditions. You'll also need to produce or collect all corrective information.

Schematic design — Now use the notes you acquired during your field survey to design the proposed OSP facilities. You may work directly on the field notes or choose to have drafting personnel develop preliminary work prints you can use to plot the proposed OSP facilities.

Work prints — These are the final drawings you'll issue to the construction teams for the placement of the proposed OSP facilities. At this point, you should have plotted all of the proposed information from the field notes onto the work prints. These changes will be incorporated into the CAD drawings and returned to you in a final set of work prints.

Site surveying the pathways.

When beginning to design a project, you should make sure the site survey is as detailed as possible to guide you through the options, obstacles, and pathway choices you'll make when determining the overview plan of proposals. During this stage, you need to look at these variables at the site and weigh out the final needs of the project. Site surveys will also include right-of-way needs (see “The Right-of-Way for Your OSP Design,” August 2002) and other legalities your plan may include. Another issue you need to consider during this stage is whether your facility will require aerial, buried, or underground cabling.

Predetermine accessibility to these sites by finding ownership and permission requirements.

Sweating the small stuff.

The field survey can begin once the proposed pathway is determined. This will include the technical and detailed measurements and proposals for the placement, rearrangement, or removal of your OSP. Many of the tools used during this stage will also be used for the purpose of determining hardware capabilities and requirements in the field. The field surveyor should also be prepared to alter and conclude any changes required in the original site survey plan when necessary for project feasibility. Other resources may require consultation to determine the effects of any changes on the original proposals.

Remember, once you've gotten to this point, the plans for the placement of the OSP system should be final and concrete. Take a little extra time now to give it a thorough, in-depth review and save yourself the hassle of fixing things down the road. Providing checklists to your survey group is a step in the right direction.

The big picture.

A good schematic design conveys the necessary information without unnecessary details. You can construct the schematic designs once you have documented all the pathway details. During this stage, the schematic design provides a big picture of the project. This view includes such information as component sizing, materials, pricing, transmission, and alternate cost analysis. Because this is generally a working plan instead of a final plan, these may be added right onto your field notes without requiring a separate set of drawings. If the field notes lack sufficient space for complete information, use a separate set of drawings to provide detail beyond what's needed for the schematic design.

Work, work, and more work.

The term “work prints” conveys the fact that this is the final set of plans to be issued to the work forces. It's the certified record and final guideline for the entire project. These documents must include the proper symbologies, terms, measurements, descriptions, profiles, and other details necessary to construct (and provide as-build reference for) the in-place OSP. Adding keys to symbols, definitions to terms used, and specifications to materials will reduce misinterpretation. Scaled drawings are preferable when dealing with profiles or other geographically related information. CAD systems have made this stage more manageable when it comes to scaling, modifications, and scenarios you have to consider.


All of this information must get to the people who need it. One way to share files is to send them as e-mail attachments. Another approach is to send files directly to remote printers and plotters. As-built drawings and revisions are available in the field, thanks to remote handheld CAD systems. Such systems are especially useful for delivering GIS-ready information for final posting or comparisons when scaling. Regardless of the medium you use, the work print must have a master set, and you need rules in place to ensure document integrity and revision control.

Signed, sealed, and delivered.

The final product of all this work upfront does assist others in building your OSP. It takes careful planning to include all of these items in your product, and you must make time upfront to prepare for and consider them. The final step along each of these phases should include quality checks and corrections for accuracy and completeness. Once you have completed all of this, you're ready for the final step of signing, sealing, and delivering your design.

Next month, we'll look at expanding the product for your design by including scope of work and scheduling.

Hite is a special projects engineer-OSP for CT Communications, Inc., Concord, N.C.

The material for this article was excerpted with permission from BICSI's Customer-Owned Outside Plant Design Manual, Second Edition.