The term “structured cabling” might lead you to believe its definition focuses on neat, organized wires, much like structured data fits neatly into a traditional database. However, structured cabling is far more than an organizational model. A structured cabling system is a strategic asset that enables data flow and IT resource sharing in every area of your organization.
Structured cabling is the wired network that carries data and connects people, systems and technology. This includes not only the actual cables, but connecting hardware, equipment, pathways, management tools, facilities and work areas that enable the wired and wireless transmission of data.
Your structured cabling system has a much longer lifecycle than other IT infrastructure, such as servers, switches and end-user devices. When strategically designed, it can contribute to the growth of your organization for many years.
For a system to be considered structured cabling, it must adhere to Electronic Industry Alliance/Telecommunications Industry Association (EIA/TIA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for design, installation, maintenance, documentation and system expansion. Although no two structured cabling systems are identical due to various types of facility architectures, equipment, configurations and other factors, these standards help you reduce risk and cost, especially in a complex IT infrastructure.
A structured cabling system is comprised of six basic components as defined by the EIA/TIA:
- Horizontal Cabling. Typically running horizontally below the floor or above the ceiling, horizontal cabling includes everything between the telecommunications outlets in the work area and the telecommunications room.
- Backbone Cabling. This includes all cabling between telecommunications and equipment rooms, entrance facilities, and buildings. Backbone cabling serves as the main data conduit between these areas and buildings.
- Telecommunications Room. The telecommunications room houses the termination equipment required to connect horizontal and backbone wiring. The room should be on the floor it serves, and rooms in a multi-floor facility should ideally be stacked vertically to simplify cable pathways.
- Work Area. Designed for frequent changes, this area comprises all of the components between the telecommunications outlet and endpoint equipment.
- Equipment Room. This room houses systems such as servers, routers, switches, PBX and mechanical terminations, that are more complex than those found in the telecommunications room. The equipment room can either replace or be separate from the telecommunications room.
- Entrance Facility. This is the point at which the service provider’s cable and equipment connects with your facility’s backbone cabling.
Good cable and hardware are a good start, but following best practices for installation will help you get the most from your investment. It’s important to follow bend-radius and tension standards for various types of cabling. For twisted-pair cabling, there are also strict tolerances for cable twists and sheathing removal. Cable bundles should be tied loosely and never stapled or cinched tightly, which can degrade performance. Cable pathways, such as ducts, raceways and conduit, should be sized to allow for future growth.
RMM Solutions has a certified (BICSI) and experienced team that can handle all your structured cabling and low-voltage power cabling needs, saving you time and money. Let our technicians help you maximize your structured cabling investment, from the initial consultation to installation to ongoing technical support.