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 What is a "cross-connect"?

Written by: HN - Mar 28, 2017

Let's imagine you have an office that you need to wire up voice and data. So you wire every desk with a bunch of wires. You punch one end of the wires into various plugs in the desk. You punch the other onto some form of punchdown block, for example a 66-block. That punchdown block may be in a closet on the same floor or it may be down in the basement. Then you bring the wires in from your telecom suppliers. The T1s, the ATM, the Frame Relay, the local lines, the analog lines, the digital lines, etc. You punch them down onto another punchdown block, for example a 66-block. Now you have two sets of blocks (they can be any form of punchdown block) -- one for those going into the office and those coming in from the outside world. You now have to join them in a process called "cross-connecting" in the telecom world. You simply run wires from one 66-block (or other punchdown device) to the other one. The reason you use cross-connect wires rather than just punching down an incoming phone line, for example, directly to your phone system is that moves, adds and changes would, over time horribly confuse things, screw connections up, and eventually become a total mess. Easier to simply have all the changes accomplished through the cross-connect wires and wiring. Follow the short wires. Easy to see what's connected to what. Easier for labeling, documentation, etc. In short, cross-connect is a connection scheme between cabling runs, subsystems, and equipment using patch cords or jumpers that attach to connecting hardware on each end. Cross-connection is the attachment of one wire to another usually by anchoring each wire to a connecting block and then placing a third wire between them so that an electrical connection is made.