Structured cabling has made our modern way of life possible. Without the invention of data networks and structured cabling, people would not be able to use telephones, TVs, radio, computers, and the Internet, among others. The technology makes it easier to communicate with people living within your neighborhood, to as far as the other side of the globe.

What does structured cabling mean?

Structured cabling is a collection of low voltage cables that connect several electronic devices to a network. Examples of devices that can be connected using a structured cabling system include computers, printers, copiers, telephones, intercoms, and CCTV cameras, among others.

Parts of a structured cabling system

It is important to note that not all cabling is structured. In a structured cabling system, components are installed or arranged in a certain way. Although each system is unique, some components are considered standard for every system:

1. Entrance Facilities (EF) – refers to the point or conduit where your building’s cabling connects with the telecommunications provider outside your building or a private network.

2. Equipment Room (ER) – is a climate-controlled space or room inside your building where the cabling from your EF connects with your building’s internal cabling system. Sometimes referred to as consolidation points, Equipment Rooms are more common for buildings with larger networks. These rooms may contain network switches, routers, servers, and patch panels for different types of cabling, among others.

3. Backbone Cabling – also referred to as riser cabling or vertical cabling as the wires are installed in risers or vertical channels. Backbone cabling is typically used to connect EFs and ERs from different floors together.

4. Horizontal Cabling – connects the outlets in your work areas to the main hub. Each cable end has a termination that is connected to a device.

5. Telecommunications Enclosure/Room (TE/TR) – houses the hardware that connects all the horizontal and backbone cabling. As a Telecommunications Room is bigger than a Telecommunications Enclosure, it is only typically found in buildings with larger network systems.

6. Work area – is the space where the end-users devices are located. This may include desktop computers, laptops, printers, phones, and other devices that need Wi-Fi or connect to a private network.

What to consider when installing cable

Take note of the following factors and tips when installing data and voice cables for your home, commercial, or industrial space:

1. The cable
Modern data cables make it possible to send large amounts of data over long distances at breakneck speeds. When it comes to structured cabling systems, here are some of the cables you may hear about or come across with a brief description of each:

  • Category 5E – is a type of twisted-pair cable used in connecting networks since 2001. The Cat 5E cable is still available and used today. However, as one of the earliest types of network cables, it is considered obsolete. This type of cable offers performances of up to 100 MHz.
  • Category 6 – the Cat 6 cable is considered the baseline for today’s network systems. It offers a maximum performance of 250 MHz for up to 180 feet. Shielding and grounding both ends of the cable are needed when using this type of cable.
  • Category 6A – doubling the capacity of its predecessor, the Cat 6A cable delivers up to 500 MHz at 328 feet. Albeit more expensive, it’s the preferred cable when installing automation devices, security systems, audiovisual systems, and more.
  • Optical Fiber – optical fibers work differently from Category cables. Cat cables use electrical impulses to transmit data through the wire, while an optical fiber cable uses light pulses. The change results in a significant boost in speeds, allowing data cycles of up to 4700 MHz for a distance of 2000 feet.

Most homes and offices still use Category cables to connect to the Internet. Fiber optic cable provides higher connectivity speeds, but this comes at a higher cost. Consult a professional cable installer to know which option is best for your needs.

2. The cable jacket
Wires are prone to damage, whether it is due to abrasion, heat, oxidation, exposure to the elements, or other factors. The jacket protects the wires from damage while still allowing the wires to transmit signals at high speeds. Consider these options when picking a cable jacket:

  • PVC – considered the standard jacket for most data and voice cables. Because it has no fire-resistant properties, this budget-friendly option is more commonly used on home cabling installations.
  • Plenum – recommended for commercial and industrial cabling applications. The material is fire-resistant and does not emit toxic smoke even if the jacket catches fire.

3. The ceiling design
The design of your ceiling can affect installation options. Drop ceilings are the best as you can conceal the wires and cables behind the tiles or panels. Offices typically feature this type of ceiling.

With open ceilings, the cables become part of the aesthetic, which gives the space a more industrial feel. Cables are easier to access and maintain with open ceilings. On the downside, the lack of a ceiling equates to higher cooling and heating expenses.

Most residential properties feature a hard ceiling. Compared to the other types, installing cables in a hard ceiling can be more expensive as concealing the cables becomes harder.

4. Available room sockets
It is normal for your needs to grow as time passes. Whether you are installing data and voice cables for your home, office, or a larger space, add more than what you think you will need. For instance, have at least three sockets in every room in your home where you have a TV, gaming console, phone, computer, or printer. Even if you are working on your laptop, you have other sockets you can use for your printer or similar devices.

There are many factors to consider when it comes to installing data and voice cables. We can make the process easier for you. Talk to our team today so we can help design and create a system best suited for your needs.