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example of cat 6 cables into a patch panel

How data cabling works and why it’s important for your business

Feb 17, 2022

Data cabling is a critical part of any business. It’s the backbone of your network, and it’s essential to understand how it works, what you need, and why you need it.

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing what data cabling is and why it’s so essential for businesses. We’ll also talk about some of the different types of available data cabling.

What is data cabling?

A well-designed data cabling system can help improve your company’s performance by providing fast and reliable access to data. It can also help you save money in the long run by preventing network downtime and improving efficiency. 

The Importance of Data Cabling in Business

Data cabling is essential for businesses because it enables them to transmit data between different devices and systems. Without data cabling, your business would be unable to communicate with computers, printers, phone systems, and other devices.

Why do businesses need a good cabling infrastructure?

There are two main types of data cabling: structured and unstructured. Structured cabling systems are more common in businesses, as it is easier to install and manage. Unstructured data cabling systems are more common in homes because they provide better performance than structured ones, requiring more maintenance work overtime.

A good network infrastructure is essential for any business. It can

  • improve performance
  • make the business more competitive
  • reduce the cost of future IT infrastructure

Additionally, a decent cabling system can help you scale faster and more securely, making it an essential part of any company’s operations.

What are the three types of data cabling?

There are three common types of data cabling in use today. These are:

  • Twisted pair
  • Coaxial cable
  • Optic fibre cable

What is a twisted pair cable?

A twisted pair cable is an electrical cable that consists of two insulated copper wires twisted around each other. The twisting helps cancel any interference caused by electromagnetic radiation, making it ideal for data transmission and networking applications.
The insulation prevents the electrical charge from escaping into the surrounding environment and causing damage or injury.

Technician holding twisted pair internet cable

Technician holding twisted pair cable

What is a coaxial cable?

A coaxial cable is a copper cabling consisting of an inner copper conductor separated from the outer layer by an insulating layer called the dielectric, which encases a conducting shield.

Coax cables are used for high-speed data transmission and have become quite popular in internet connection because they have very low signal losses compared to other cable types.

Coaxial cables are standard in two types: thick and thin, with unique advantages and disadvantages.

The thicker type is more robust in harsh environments and has higher signal attenuation at longer distances. The thinner type is more flexible and lighter in weight, but it’s also less sturdy which means that it must receive adequate protection from mechanical damage.

For reference, we don’t use coaxial cable in our network installations as it’s no longer widely used.

What is a fibre optic cable?

Fibre Optic cables are cylindrical strands of glass fibres that transmit data via light.

Light is transmitted through the optical fibre by internal reflection, which means there is no loss of signal strength over the distance travelled (which can range up to several hundred kilometres) and an extremely high bandwidth capacity.

Due to these characteristics, they are often used in backbone networks and for long-distance telecommunications.

What are the disadvantages of data cabling in business?

The installation may be costly, depending on the type of cable used. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, optic fibre cables offer fast speed, but they are expensive compared to twisted pair cables.

What are the current standards for cabling?

The current standards for data cabling are called Category cables. They include Cat-0, Cat-A, Cat-B, Cat-C, Cat-D, and Cat-E. The lower the number on the cable, the slower the speed. However, these speeds can still support most business needs.

Which type of cabling should I choose for my business?

That depends on a few factors, such as the amount of traffic the cable will need to handle and the level of security you need. For most businesses, Cat-E or Cat-D cables should be more than sufficient.

For more on the best types of cabling to use, read our blog on cat five vs cat six cabling

What are rj45 connectors?

Rj45 connectors are used in data cabling to connect computers and other devices to a network. It is also known as “ethernet connectors”, commonly used in ethernet cabling.

Rj45 connectors have eight pins, which allow for high-speed data transmission. They are also very durable, making them ideal for business settings.

rj45 connector example

example of an RJ45 connector

What are patch panels?

Patch panels are a type of hardware used in data cabling. They allow for the termination and connection of network cables and provide an efficient way to manage network wiring.

Patch panels come in different sizes, depending on the number of ports, with the most common size being 48 ports.

When installing a patch panel, it’s vital to ensure you’re following standard cable-routing practices, ensuring that your network runs smoothly and is easy to maintain.

In addition, always use shielded twisted-pair (STP) cables when connecting devices to a patch panel. Otherwise, you could experience interference and performance issues.

cat6 cables going into patch panel

example of cat6 cabling going into a patch panel

What are network switches?

A network switch is a computer networking device that connects devices on a single computer network by using packet switching to receive, process and forward data to the destination device.

Unlike older hubs that broadcast the same data out of each of its ports and produce unnecessary network traffic, a network switch forwards data only to one or multiple devices that need to receive it.

Switches are an essential part of modern Ethernet networks, where collisions and broadcast storms can cripple performance. Switches come in various sizes, with different port counts, features and prices.

They are often managed using software that runs on a separate computer, called a network switch management platform.

How long will good performing data cabling last?

The lifespan of a data network can vary depending on the quality of installation, usage and what kind of environment.

A good-quality data cable should last for around five to seven years with proper care and maintenance. However, if the wires are not installed correctly or are subject to frequent wear and tear, they may only last two or three years.

What factors affect the lifespan of data cabling?

Several factors can affect the lifespan of data cabling:

The quality of installation

Cables installed incorrectly or poorly will not last as long as those appropriately installed.

Usage

If used frequently, they will wear out more quickly than those used occasionally.

The environment

Cables exposed to moisture or heat will not last as long as those kept in a cooler, drier environment.

What can you do to extend the lifespan of your cabling?

There are several things you can do to help extend the life of your data cabling

Keep the cables dry and cool

Moisture and heat can damage cables, so keep them in a dry and cool environment.

Use cable ties

Cable ties will help keep the cables organised and less likely to get tangled or damaged.

Avoid stretching the cables

Stretching the cables can damage them and shorten their lifespan.

Have them checked regularly

Having your data cabling checked by a professional every few years can help catch any potential problems before they become too serious.
By following these tips, you can help keep your data cabling in good condition and extend its lifespan.

In conclusion

Without data cabling, your business would be unable to communicate with computers, printers, phone systems and other devices. This impacts your ability to do business effectively and efficiently.

If you’re interested in finding out more information on data cabling and its importance in business,  don’t hesitate to contact us and we’d be happy to help.

example of cat 6 cables into a patch panel

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