Structured cabling covers all of the phone, internet, networking cables and networking equipment in a building. As the name suggests ‘structured’ cabling is a ‘structured’ way of connecting all of these types of cables together.
In a traditional network you tend to have phone cables run from a central point out to different desks or phone points. You will then have network cables running from a central router to local hubs and then to computers. Sometimes there will also be cables running to printers, scanners and other devices. Commonly these different cables will have been put in by different people at different times and are characterised by a rats nest of cables under a desk where no-one quite knows which cable does what.
A structured cabling solution takes a more systematic approach. It looks at where cabling is needed throughout a home, office or building and organises it into a system of switches, routers and cabling. A structured cabling system will normally include six different types of cabling but the three most fundamental ones are:
- Entrance Facility Cabling – this is where the phone lines and internet connections come into a building and are joined to the internal network. This will often be done in an equipment room. In larger and more complex buildings there may be a series of equipment and telecommunication rooms connected by backbone cabling.
- Horizontal Cabling – this is the cabling that connects from an equipment room to different areas of the building. In a home there may be horizontal cabling to the kitchen and other horizontal cabling to the living room. In an office the horizontal cabling may go to the accounts department and the sales department.
- Work Area Cabling – these are the points at which an individual phone or computer will be connected to the rest of the network cabling.
Why is structured cabling important?
Data connections are becoming more important to running an efficient business and home. With the Internet of Things (IoT) everything from printers to fridges now have their own network and internet connections meaning more cabling is needed. At the same time the increasing move towards VOIP phone systems and streaming video there is even more need for those cables to operate efficiently as the quality of the cabling can have a direct impact on the quality of a phone call or video conference.
Traditional Cat 5 and Cat 6 cabling is only efficient over short distances. In the ad-hoc systems that are in place in many homes and office we often see long stretches of cable being daisy chained through different types of routers and hubs using different standards. This can negatively impact the speed, efficiency and reliability of a network.
Have a properly thought out structured cabling solution ensures that the right amount of data can be handled and delivered where it is needed. By having the cabling more structured it is easier to upgrade and fix when needed. This will not only make a more efficient system but also a much neater one. Ultimately structured cabling will help to future proof your building.