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data cabling going into a patch panel

Structured Cabling – Everything you need to know

Jan 24, 2022

There’s so much information to take in when it comes to structured cabling. We know it can be overwhelming and a bit of a minefield.

With this in mind, we’ve created this article to offer you an overview of what structured cabling is and how everything works together. This will help you make informed decisions about your business’s network infrastructure for you to meet immediate business demands and plan for the future.

Table of Contents

What is Structured Cabling?

Structured cabling is the foundation of a well-run network, connectivity and the basis for all voice, data and video traffic within any office environment.

A robust structured cabling system helps:

  • decrease administration time
  • increasing network reliability
  • allow faster access to applications
  • Reduce costs of telecom services 
  • improve overall network performance

With the global market size projected to increase to $20.88 billion by 2030, businesses need to improve their network cabling infrastructure to keep one step ahead of their competitors.

The benefits of Structured Cabling and why is it important?

As the world becomes increasingly more digital, data cabling is falling more and more out of date. 

Structured cabling helps businesses keep up with information demands by making digital assets available to users in real-time, which has led many organisations to adopt structured cabling systems as their primary method of distributing data.

A structured cabling system consists of several different components that work together to provide the backbone for your company’s network infrastructure. 

To begin with, the network installation experts run cables throughout the building, which tends to be the most expensive part of getting started. 

These cables must be able to handle transmitting large amounts of data at high speeds, so you don’t experience any hiccups on your network.

What are the 6 components of structured cabling?

Structured cabling refers to the framework of cables running throughout a building or data centres used to connect all electronic equipment. 

This infrastructure is one of the most critical aspects of information technology in any business as it allows for efficient operations, clear communication between employees and enhanced security.

The six structured cabling subsystems

The six structured cabling subsystems are entrance facilities, cable distribution, equipment rooms, telecommunications closets, horizontal cabling and backbone cabling.

These components work together to allow for the transmission and distribution of information and data.

Entrance facilities

Entrance facilities refer to connecting an external cable or wire and the equipment inside a building. 

This component provides external networks such as fibre, copper or coaxes to an internal network like Ethernet.

These components are all part of a more extensive system that enables connectivity for electronic equipment to function correctly.

Equipment Rooms

Cable distribution is a subsystem that acts as a bridge between the entrance facility and various telecommunications rooms located throughout a building. 

It connects the external cabling to the internal by contacting predetermined locations or outlets.

Cabled efficiently, this is beneficial when required for certain types of telecommunications equipment.

Equipment rooms houses patch panel connections to all six subsystems and house network switches, servers, and other devices.

Note – This area requires a temperature-controlled environment in line with equipment specifications.

Backbone cabling

Installed vertically (also known as risers) connects each building floor and links telecommunications to the entrance facilities and other equipment rooms.

Types of cabling used as part of a backbone cabling system include:

  • Cat5 / Cat 5e
  • Cat6 / Cat6a
  • Cat 7
  • Single Mode Fibre
  • Multi-Mode Fibre

Horizontal cabling

Horizontal cabling is another essential component within structured cabling because it serves as the backbone of the entire system. 

Horizontal cables transmit data signals from telecommunications rooms between servers and network devices.

Telecommunications Rooms

The last subsystem of structured cabling involves the telecommunications room itself, designated to house any equipment requiring protection from environmental factors such as fire. 

These rooms are often located in a central area within a building, serving as an oversized distribution closet for several horizontal cables that serve equipment on different floors or departments.

image of unstructured vs structured cabling designed by TechCare
A before and after photo of an installed structured cabling cabinet inside a telecommunications room

Workspace

The final destination of a structured cabling system covers the area from a network device to the network outlet on a wall.

Why Is Structured Cabling Better Than Conventional Wiring?

Since the beginning of time, people have been using some form of communication. 

Electrical wires allow for complex communication protocols (such as internet access) but come at a cost: you need someone who knows how to install them properly.

Every business requires different components deployed in its network infrastructure. Yet, companies hire an electrician and expect them to know everything about network wiring, leading to software installation issues that IT departments could not guarantee would work correctly. 

This problem was solved by following a standard, BS6701:2016+A1:2017 (Telecommunications Equipment and Cabling Standard). 

However, even this has shortcomings; specifically, companies struggle to best deploy their infrastructure. 

The reason for this is that it all fell back on individual electricians. If one person was installing copper cabling and another was doing patching and testing and yet another pulling cables, then there were bound to be inconsistencies across the board. 

This leads to disruptions in workflow or even an overall performance degradation from inconsistent connections.

In response to these issues, structured cabling came about. It is the process of creating a backbone to all network communication and running it all through this cabling. 

Everything from individual computers, phones, printers – you name it – will be connected through the cables. 

This means that everyone who touches any cable does so uniformly, and cables are traced and organised because they go to a specific place.

In Conclusion

Structured cabling, in our opinion, is considered to be one of the IT backbones of businesses. Networks, phone lines, and power are all routed through structured cables designed to handle the varying types of signals that run through them.

The main advantage of structured cabling is that it allows future flexibility when connecting hardware or software to the network setup. Meaning changes cost less in terms of time and money within a business. 

However, many businesses see cabling as a low priority and opt for another solution, such as wireless networking, so it’s essential that you research the best solution for your business and engage with a company who can provide a network cabling cost example 

If you’re not sure whether this is the right way forward for you and your business, give us a call or contact us via our website, and we’ll happily go through it with you and help you work out what’s best. 

example of cat 6 cables into a patch panel

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