WHAT IS STRUCTURED CABLING? Generally speaking it is a term or one of these IT buzzword's that often gets thrown about. IT guys mention and talk about structured cabling when describing the data cable within the walls or overhead in the cable tray or even the wall jacks themselves and so on.
Technically speaking structured cabling is a specialized area of networking and although many handy network cablers will have a go at terminating a Cat5 cable but for it to be install and terminated correctly, it will take a lot more than a few RJ45 jacks and a crimp tool. TIA or the Telecommunications Industry Association is the body that have outlined the group of specifications which are specified in TIA TR42 which allow for a universal standard that the various manufacturers can adhere to when producing components. TIA 568 is their standard that governs the installation of communications within commercial buildings.
Simply put, structured cabling is a description given to the communication cabling within a building and describes the standard of installation and systems used, for example; a patch panel, network cable and network jacks for the ends etc.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? The golden rule for a data cabling installation is to be sure that the installed cabling meets the performance that you are paying for. Donít be stuck with a network thatís being slowed down with re-transmissions and poor bandwidth because of installation errors or poor components. Itís important that the installation is certified... As a business owner myself, everything relies on communication: Telephone calls, computers, servers, emails, internet access, Wi-Fi, security, IP CCTV etc. and if you think about it all these devices are all linked over cabling and connected together with network switches etc.
Almost every important device within a commercial building relies on the structured cabling. Not only that but now and even more frequently these devices and others are being power directly over the structured cabling. This is known as POE or Power over Ethernet. In the near future LED lighting will be powered via the network cabling, laptops powered directly by the network port and so on... basically structured cabling is and for a long time to come one of the most important components of a buildings communication systems and you canít just swap it out like you can a server or wireless access point, it is a permanent installation which effects everything on the network and thatís why it needs to be installed correctly as it will be relied on far into the future.
- CAT3 - Used only for telephone or alarm based applications
- CAT5e - Max length: 100m - 100MHZ - Max Speed: 1,000 Mbps (1Gbps)
- CAT6 - Max length: 55m or 100m- 250MHZ - Max Speed: 10,000 Mbps (10Gbps)
- CAT6A - Max length: 100m - 500MHZ - Max Speed: 10,000 Mbps (10Gbps)
You can easily expect to be using the same network cabling in 20 yearsí time regardless of technology advancing significantly in that time frame. Bandwidth and POE abilities are two items you need to think about when considering longevity. For peace of mind we offer a 25-year warranty on our cabling.
WHY DO IT RIGHT? It needs to look good. you would think that because it looks good, all the cables are nice and neat and to top it all off you have a gigabit network connection on your computer that its working well? wrong. Making the cabling look good, making sure all the cables are combed into a nice loom, kept separate from the high voltage cables the trunking is nice and level and matches up nicely, the labeling on the patch panel is nice etc this is simply cosmetic although important in itself is only the cosmetic end and nothing else. A single kink in one or more cables will cause the cores within that cable to become folded and narrow at that point.
Typical work we do...
- Testing and certification
- Retail, office, industrial, general commercial work undertaken
- New network points added to current network
- New installations & relocation services
- Network cabling upgrades
- Comms cabinet clean up / tidy
- Removal projects
- Service level agreements
Is the cable solid copper or CCA (copper coated aluminium) again this is something that will affect the installation significantly as aluminium has much higher resistance compared to pure copper.
Is the cable 23AWG or 24AWG? this is the diameter of the copper cores within the cable effecting POE applications particularly future-proofing.
Is the cable UTP (unshielded) or STP (Shielded) if STP has the cable been ground as required? Only an analyzer such as the DSX5000 will test if the shielding has actually been ground correctly on both ends on each data cable
There are a number areas that will leave the network functioning but restricted in terms of its designed capacity.
The ideal installation will be with one of the premium brands and depending on the brand, its good practice to continue with that same brand you have chosen for all the components of the structured cabling.The entire installation adhering to the relevant TIA specifications and also cosmetically grade A.
CERTIFICATION The final marker of a professional installation after all this has been completed is a Fluke Networks report which includes each individual data point with an analyzer which has been calibrated within the previous 12 months at a maximum, such as the Fluke Networks DTX1800 or a DSX5000. We own both of these devices and send our customers a certificate which includes all the relevant technical information showing that each individual data point can run at the speed its designed to. The cert will show the length of each individual cable, total length of cabling in feet as well as a broad range of specific technical information for each network point that we have installed.
Generally speaking certification is from the patch panel to the network jack which is known a permanent link but for sensitive applications we can certify the installation from the end of the patch cable. We test up to 1000MHz (Class FA) which covers Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6A / 10Gbps.