What is structured cabling, and why your business needs it?

What is structured cabling, and why your business needs it?

Business success hinges on good data management, which enables your team to access and utilize the information they need to perform their tasks well. Without proper data management, your staff’s productivity will be hindered and your business will fail to capitalize on opportunities. In today's increasingly competitive business environment, it's more important than ever to be highly organized and strategic with how you manage data.

However, even powerful data management technologies can be rendered useless without a structured cabling setup. Here's why structured cabling is essential to data management and, ultimately, your business’s success.

What is structured cabling?

Structured cabling refers to telecommunications cabling in buildings or campuses in which a number of smaller, standardized components are carefully assembled. In this type of cabling, the smaller components are efficiently combined to provide a complete telecommunications infrastructure to serve a wide range of uses. The components also take on a modular form once assembled, making each component easy to replace, fix, or move.

What does structured cabling look like?

Structured cabling takes into consideration aesthetic without sacrificing function. This is in contrast to point-to-point cabling, which connects relevant machines directly to one another, with the resultant mass of cables simply being left wherever they land.

Disorganized cabling can be a problem as businesses acquire more equipment and bring in more cabling over time. After all, it’s not uncommon for accumulated computer and telecommunications cabling to bunch up, making it difficult to untangle and assess. Messy cabling can even cause short circuiting and overheating. This is why structured cabling is important; not only will it make future activities such as maintenance, replacements, or transfers easier, but it will also help prevent fire and electrical hazards.

What are the elements of structured cabling?

Structured cabling designs are unique to every office space, but they all contain the following elements:

  • Main distribution area (MDA) – This is where all MACs (moves, adds, and changes) are made. The MDA serves as the main management and maintenance area of your network.
  • Patch panels – These connect cables to one another. Also called patch bays, patch panels serve as connection hubs for multiple connections to a network.
  • Switches – These are components that receive, process, and send data. Switches allow devices to connect to the network.
  • Trunk cables – These are cables that connect patch panels together. A collection of cables bridging one patch panel to another is called a trunk.

What are the key subsystems of structured cabling?

The following subsystems are the standard building blocks of any structured cabling system:

  • Entrance facility – This is the “front door” of your network; it is where most security tools are placed. Think of it as a gate to a members-only club. If your name is not on the bouncer’s list, you won’t be allowed to pass through. The entrance facility will only allow users with the correct credentials and accepted device MAC address to access the network.
  • Equipment room – It is a centralized location that houses equipment and wiring consolidation points.
  • Telecommunications room – This is an enclosed area that houses your telecommunications equipment, cable terminations, cross-connects, and distribution frames.
  • Backbone cabling – As the name implies, it serves as the foundation of your office cable infrastructure. It interconnects entrance facilities, telecommunications rooms, and equipment rooms. This subsystem is used to connect floors and even buildings to one another.
  • Horizontal cabling – It is cabling that connects telecommunications information outlets in the work area (where devices and computers connect to the network) and horizontal cross-connect in the telecommunications room. This cabling is typically routed above the ceiling or below the floor.
  • Work area – This refers to the area where end-user equipment like computers, printers, and phones are located.

What are the commonly used cables in structured cabling?

Not all cables are the same. Expect to see the following cable types in your network infrastructure:

  • Fiber optic cabling – These are optical fibers made of silicone or plastic that carry signals and images. The two most common types of fiber optic cables are single mode & multimode.
  • Twisted pair cabling – These are your regular phone cables. These come in shielded (STP) and unshielded (UTP) versions, with the former providing protection against electromagnetic interference and crosstalk. The most common types of twisted pair cabling today are Cat5e, Cat6 & Cat6a.
  • Coaxial cabling – These are cables that carry high-frequency electrical signals with low loss typically used for cable TV, phones, broadband internet, and for connecting radio transmitters to antennas. The most common types of coax cabling today are RG-59 & RG-6.

What are the benefits of structured cabling?

Cost-effectiveness

Structured cabling makes repairs and maintenance faster for IT personnel, so you spend less on outside specialist help. It also helps optimize equipment and network performance, so you’re not wasting money on extra tools and services to improve bandwidth.

Reduced downtime

A smart network design allows your IT team to respond quickly to problems and rectify issues to avoid extended downtime. It even allows your IT personnel to address network needs without disrupting your usual operations.

Consistency of design

Design consistency takes the guesswork out of the equation, allowing you to quickly identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your network. Furthermore, it ensures that any new members of your IT team can quickly get up to speed with their network management tasks.

Outsource your cabling infrastructure needs to Ohio’s trusted cabling expert, North Shore Technologies. We’ll guide you through the whole process and provide you with all the answers you need. Contact us today to learn more.


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