Structured Data Cabling
Structured Data Cabling is a standards-based method of building or growing the telecommunications infrastructure. With careful planning and proper installation, it will provide a solid backbone of data, voice and multimedia communications for decades.
The cabling infrastructure will last longer than almost every other technology-based investment an organization will make. That being said, it is important to do it right the first time. This is not a place to cut corners. A network switch, for example, may have a lifespan of 5 years. Once obsolete, it is quick and painless to replace. Cabling, on the other hand, is costly, time consuming, and messy to replace.
Below is a very basic overview of some of the options available. While we hope this information is useful, it is barely more than a conversation starter. We would be happy to meet with you and your staff to discuss your organization’s needs now and into the future. Please give us a call, or fill out the form below, for an onsite evaluation.
Copper cabling is by far the most common type of data cabling. Its main advantages over fiber optics include cable cost, ease of termination, and lower equipment costs. Current cabling standards allow for 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gbps applications.
|Category 5e (CAT5e)||Category 6 (CAT6)||Category 6a (CAT6A)|
|Frequency||100 MHz||250 MHz||500 MHz|
|Throughput||1 Gbps||1 Gbps||10 Gbps|
|Distance*||100 meters||100 meters||100 meters|
|Notes||Not recommended for new installations||Recommended for mid-span PoE
Better reliability and data integrity
10 Gbps possible at shorter distances, but not supported by standards
|Recommended for best performance and future-proofing|
* The total distance of 100 meters includes patch cords at both ends. 90 meters of horizontal cable allows for two 5 meter (16 feet) patch cords, one at the computer and one in the telecommunications room.
While not as common, and generally more expense, optical fiber is the cable of choice for long distance, high bandwidth applications. Unlike copper, fiber optic cabling is also immune to electromagnetic interference.
The table below is offered as a general overview of some typical fiber applications. In order to determine actual performance, many factors must be considered. These include equipment type, fiber type and quality, and core diameter.
|Throughput / Distance||1 Gbps / 1,000 meters
10 Gbps / 550 meters
100 Gbps / 150 meters
|1 Gbps / 125 km
10 Gbps / 80 km
100 Gbps / 40 km
|Notes||Thicker core, easier to install, less expensive.
Generally used for shorter distances, such as between buildings on the same campus, or from one floor to another within the same building.
|Thinner core, difficult to install, more expensive.
Designed to carry only a single ray of light (mode). This allows for better fidelity of each light pulse over longer distances.
Where to Start
In order to build a reliable network that will live up to ever increasing demands, it is important to analyze current needs as well as planned growth.
Life Cycle Plan for at least 10 years of growth. Cabling systems can and should last even longer. 15 to 20 years is a typical life cycle for cabling technologies.
Applications Beyond data, a cabling system should support voice (VoIP), video, multimedia, and Power over Ethernet (PoE).
Bandwidth 100 Mbps was the standard of yesterday’s networks. Today 1 Gbps is expected. 10 Gbps is not far away. A few extra dollars today can save thousands later.
Users In many new installations, it is only a matter of days before desks are rearranged, users are added, and new demands arise. Planning only for today’s expected needs will guarantee additional adds/moves/changes in the very near future.
Budget None of the other points matter if the money isn’t there. Life is about trade-offs. Knowing what those trade-offs are will allow an organization to make intelligent decisions. We can help.
Fill out the form on our contact page or give us a call to schedule an onsite evaluation of your current system and planned growth. Together we can map out the path that will be best suited for your organization now and well into the future.