The term NEBS stands for network equipment-building system and is a set of technical requirements that was first developed at Bell Labs (News - Alert) with a single goal of making network telecom equipment completely fail proof. NEBS-compliant hardware ensures carriers that the equipment they buy meets clearly identified standards regarding temperature and humidity, resistance to fire, equipment handling, earthquake survivability, vibration (both in the office and when being transported), airborne contaminants and acoustic noise.
However, there are three common misconceptions when it comes to NEBS.
First, there are actually three levels of NEBS standards that provide different degrees of assurance. Level 1 is aimed at office class environments, and is intended to minimize system degradation, while Level 2 is intended for “failure tolerant services” in a controlled environment. The reality is Level 1 or 2 are rarely used, so when people refer to NEBS, they really mean Level 3, which is designed to meet the rigorous requirements that carriers need in all types of harsh environments.
Second, the equipment is often mistakenly referred to as NEBS Certified. Unlike a safety certification that requires approval by an outside agency to label the product, NEBS is a series of tests performed by an approved test lab against documented standards (GR-63 and GR-1089). The equipment is tested against the criteria and determined to be compliant or not. The test results are used later by telecom engineers to understand how the equipment will behave within their environment.
Third, designing a solution with multiple pieces of NEBS equipment does not mean the solution itself is NEBS complaint. The final solution must be submitted to the lab for testing to determine compliance to the standard. And any subsequent changes in the equipment must be reviewed by engineers to decide which tests must be performed again.
So what’s the final score? If you want to ensure that your products will work in any situation, whether it is in an earthquake or a lightning strike, the NEBS standard is the right choice. Just make sure you are working with a team that understands what NEBS really means.
Jeff Hudgins (News - Alert), Vice President of Engineering at NEI, writes the Tech Score column for TMCnet. To read more of Jeff’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell