Untangle the Wires and Learn the Basics of Structured Cabling Systems

Untangle the Wires and Learn the Basics of Structured Cabling Systems

The Basics of Structured Cabling 

The world today seems to be nothing but wireless systems and information that floats in the air as if magic, but under all that magic are physical wires and data centers driving everything. According to the US International Trade Commission, by 2025, it is estimated that 175 zettabytes (175 trillion gigabytes) of data will be created in that year alone. For context, in 2010, the amount of data created was 1.2 zettabytes.   

In telecommunications, structured cabling consists of building a cabling infrastructure with standardized smaller subsystems. Proper structure cabling systems, the standards of which are overseen by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), are the glue that binds your network. 

You will be able to easily connect new computers, move the layout of a floor, or reduce connection points without having to start from scratch every single time. This scalable, integrated system allows voice, data, and wireless systems to connect and work seamlessly and efficiently across your network.  

Breakdown of Structured Cabling 

Structured cabling systems are designed and installed using standards by the TIA for data centers, office buildings, school campuses, and apartment buildings. Structured cabling is about creating a standard infrastructure managed together to make a cohesive system. Now that the groundwork has been laid for structured cabling systems, let’s break down exactly what structured cabling consists of: 

  • Network Cables Common cabling types are twisted pair copper wire, fiber optic, and coaxial cables. A twisted pair is traditionally used in ethernet cabling. Fiber optic is designed for high-speed and long distances. Coaxial is used for video surveillance. 
  • Connectors: For instance, ethernet cables use RJ-45, traditional single phone lines RJ-11, and fiber optic uses a SC connection.  
  • Patch Panels: These 19-inch rack-mounted units are typically used to individually access different lines. Then, each line can be patched into a network switch. 
  • Racks and Cabinets: These can be wall-mounted for smaller installations or floor-to-ceiling for large installations or data centers. These are standard-sized units meant to provide protection and ventilation to the housed equipment. 
  • Patch Cords: Short cables connect devices to the network, like printers or faxes, to the structured network. 
  • Cable Management: This is vital to the success of the network. Proper cable management reduces line interference, eases maintenance, and facilitates the overall collection of the cables themselves. 

Essentials of Structured Cabling 

Having a thoroughly laid out structured cabling system, similar to a building blueprint, will increase the efficiency of installation or maintenance of the network. The US holds the largest market share of structure cabling systems in the world at 32 percent. The different points of entry should be identified and classified to maintain the specifications of the network. Labeling every cabling connection, server, outlet, and more will allow for strategic maintenance. 

Entrance Facilities (EF) 

Entrance facilities are the entry points where external telecommunications lines enter the network, which then becomes the responsibility of the internal network. This also includes grounding and shielding from electrical surges. 

Equipment Room (ER) 

The equipment room (ER) is the internal termination point or brain of the network for the building or facility at large. It is where the EF lines get connected and distributed. The ER also houses network switches, servers, patch panels, and routers. 

Backbone Cabling 

Backbone cabling is considered the crucial link in the structured cabling system. It connects different areas using subsystem cabling. This system is used mostly in data centers. 

Horizontal Cabling (Cabling Subsystem 1) 

Horizontal cabling is the internal wiring (IW) that connects the telecommunication rooms to individual outlets or work areas. This cabling can be through walls, ceilings, or space between floors. 

Telecommunications Room (TR) and Telecommunications Enclosure (TE) 

These rooms or dedicated areas within a larger room are termination points for backbone and horizontal cabling. Depending on the immediate needs, they accommodate multiple pieces of equipment, including patch panels, patch cords, and more complicated systems. 

Work Area (WA) 

The work area is the final step in the structured cabling system, connecting the end user’s device to the wall outlet or plug. Wall outlets should be strategically placed throughout the area to facilitate users’ connections and limit the distance of data travel. 

Advantages of Structured Cabling   

For IT personnel, having a well-thought-out structured cabling system plan will make your maintenance of system issues or questions much more straightforward to diagnose. 

  • Flexibility: Using standardized cabling and network specs, you can adjust the network based on the organization’s needs. 
  • Reliability: Following industry standards, your structured cabling system will reduce downtime and minimize data interference.  
  • Ease of Troubleshooting: Thorough labeling and documentation of the system as a whole will help reduce the time it takes to isolate trouble spots.  
  • Cost Savings: Although upfront costs may be higher, maintenance and troubleshooting time will be lower because the infrastructure is properly conceived. 
  • Scalability: Expanding or adjusting the network’s operation is more easily done because of the deployment’s standardized nature. 

Future Proof Yourself with Structured Cabling from NTouchTel 

Historically, copper-based systems dominated cabling needs, but the rapid growth of 5G and WIFI 6 has made these advances a significant factor in the growth of structured cabling. Relying on a team of expert installers for your structured cabling system is money and time well spent. Building a resilient infrastructure for the present and future will alleviate network stresses for years. Contact NTouchTel today about how structured cabling can work for you. 

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