Universal connectivity grid (UCG): the Fact File

Connectivity is the 4th utility

Modern workplaces are changing. They’re now dynamic places that are more connected than ever before. You have numerous devices and objects to connect, and demanding end users to keep happy. How do you do it?

A converged infrastructure can help. It supports real estate, facilities and IT services all in a single architecture. A universal connectivity grid (UCG) lets you ensure this architecture connects every user and device—even when they’re on the move.

Modern Workplaces
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What is the universal connectivity grid (UCG)?

UCG lets you deploy cable infrastructure in an enterprise environment with the maximum flexibility and scalability necessary to support all workplace activities. Think of it as your body’s nervous system; it takes sensorization, command and control, and data to every part of your body that needs it.

UCG is:

  • Universal: It provides access to virtually any device, as long as it connects through common and standardized protocols like Ethernet, Bluetooth, or Zigbee
  • Connectivity: It connects devices to central equipment like switches, servers, and similar
  • Grid: Implementation guidelines are based on service areas, the size of which varies on the applications to be served

The workplace is evolving. New advances in wired and wireless technologies, plus a general cultural shift to greater mobility, has seen the workstation-centric model transform into a distributed, device-centric model.

The most effective way of making sure a workplace has ubiquitous connectivity is placing service concentration points in or near the ceiling, where they’re able to easily reach a DAS antenna, workstation, security camera, or HVAC equipment. UCG gives you a consistent yet agile way to make sure your structured cabling is always where you need it, without you having to spend a fortune on installations that disrupt your business.

Learn more at: Universal connectivity grid solution page


UCG drivers

When structured cabling was introduced, its main purpose was to be a standardized medium to connect workstations, desk phones, and other devices. It marked the start of open architecture in the infrastructure world.

Since then, buildings have evolved to incorporate many smart systems. Generally this means using their own cabling media—of which there could be many different types.

This evolution to smart buildings is happening alongside a transformation in telecoms cabling: the shift from workstation-centric to device-centric in the workplace means a growing number of connectivity points located in or near ceilings. And, on top of providing users with connectivity in the workplace, connectivity points are also needed in other locations to support the growth of technologies such as:

  • Wireless technologies—chiefly Wi-Fi and in-building wireless solutions like DAS and small cells that need additional connections in ceilings for access points around your building
  • Security and access control systems that increasingly use ceiling connectivity for power over Ethernet (PoE)-powered cameras, controllers and card readers
  • Space and energy management systems that use sensors spread throughout buildings or sites to make the most of your space and support occupancy-based energy management by integrating with network-controlled LED lights and HVAC systems
  • Other PoE-enabled devices
  • Digital displays that are being used more and more for things like space and energy monitoring and showing the locations of unoccupied meeting rooms or personnel
  • An ever-increasing ecosystem of other internet of things (IoT)-connected devices and services

What are the advantages of UCG?

In enterprise spaces, communications infrastructure is typically made up of two basic elements: the backbone, also known as the vertical or riser, and the horizontal. The backbone connects telecommunications rooms (TRs) to centrally-located equipment rooms (ERs). Backbone media is typically OM3, OM4 or OM5 multimode or singlemode fiber-optic cable, able to support high-bandwidth applications, though copper cabling can also be used for low-bandwidth applications.

This architecture lets you make modifications without major expense or disruption to daily operations.

UCG is an evolved concept from the Structured Cabling System (SCS) that we took an in-depth look at previously here on The Enterprise Source. Read more about it >

Applications of UCG

Below is a comprehensive list of UCG applications found in standard ISO/IEC 11801-6, Annex A:

comprehensive list of UCG applications

And you can read about some of the most significant applications below.

Significant applications:

The future of UCG

Workplaces have changed dramatically in recent times, as many workers moved from offices to makeshift workspaces in their homes or other remote locations. But even as workers and businesses are getting used to this new status quo, business leaders were already asking the question, “What will the workplace look like when we all come back?”

We’re getting an idea of what it looks like. One trend is the rise of the hybrid workspace to accommodate a mix of on-site and remote workers. Many workers now say they don’t want to work for an employer who requires them to work on-site full time, while others say they want to work remotely at least one day per week. 

As such, there’s now a trend for companies to reduce the amount of office space they lease. Office real estate vacancies are on the rise, and companies are rethinking remaining office spaces while taking the opportunity to cut back on real estate costs. Instead of rigid spaces composed of private offices and cubicle farms, companies are looking at hybrid office spaces with shared desks, flexible office configurations, and health and safety mechanisms that address a majority of employee post-pandemic concerns.

A few take-aways:

  1. Spaces need to be flexible—Office spaces designed to focus on traditional static, private workspaces are seen as limiting how people can efficiently use space. Spaces that can safely foster easy collaboration for both in-person and remote workers will likely be more common.
  2. Hot desking—Flexible hours and workstyles were on the rise before the pandemic. Post-pandemic, they may become more mainstream—leading to a reduction in personal offices, cubicles or desks.
  3. Health and safety are paramount—Health and safety have become more prominent in workers’ and managers’ minds—leading to consideration of spacing, cleaning rotation, capacity, and air quality.

To support these new workspace priorities, you’ll benefit from underlying technology innovation and investment. For example, smart building systems can automatically track and manage occupancy, cleaning crews, air quality and safety, while Wi-Fi networks support workers moving around anywhere within an office space.

UCG: flexible infrastructure for flexible workspaces

Enabling a flexible workspace needs a network architecture that is as flexible and dynamic as the workforce it supports. CommScope’s universal connectivity grid (UCG) does this by organizing a workspace into areas called “cells.” By deploying consolidation points (CPs) for network connectivity in these areas, you can equip your building to provide highly flexible workspace options while still supporting the core network needs of the workforce.

The UCG lets you support multiple applications that enable the workplace of the future, including wireless LANs (WLANs), mobile technologies, health and safety sensors, building automation, and access control. In collaboration spaces that carry heavier wireless requirements, you can use CPs to provide power and connectivity to more WLAN access points. WLAN and wired connectivity can support focused workspaces in a shared desk area and also support systems that detect occupancy, to let others know what spaces are available, or to notify building services that a space should be cleaned before someone else can use it.

The workplace is evolving, and will continue to evolve, as end-user demands dictate. CommScope is the perfect partner to support not just your needs of today, but also the dynamic needs of tomorrow, with progressive architectures like our universal connectivity grid.


Get your infrastructure future-ready

With knowledge of structured cabling practices, you can help your IT and facility managers and, as a result, save costs, improve network performance and make network management easier over these long time frames. The CommScope universal connectivity grid (UCG) approach gives you an elegant and flexible approach to cabling network design.

As an emerging physical layer architecture for intelligent buildings, UCG is designed to deliver high bandwidth and remote power capabilities that can support your intelligent building applications, while also giving you enhanced efficiency and flexibility.

By being based on service areas rather than a desk- or device-centric connectivity approach, UCG can be tailored to give your building optimal connectivity and capacity. Managing UCG cabling and connected devices in your building is best done using an automated infrastructure management (AIM) system. As the growing focus on efficiency, security and productivity drives deployments of more wired and wireless devices in buildings, a UCG can give you the essential foundation that maximizes your building’s potential and makes it more attractive to tenants.

Further information

Smart building trends to come: why a universal connectivity grid is a must-have

Smart buildings need connectivity, power, flexibility and convenience. We explain why a UCG can help you provide all that with the minimum disruption.


Additional resources