The term “structured cabling” can be a bit hard to define. Many places have thrown the term around as a buzzword so it can be difficult to determine what it actually means on a professional level. The Technical Definition can be summed up pretty simply; “structured cabling” refers to how a cabling system is laid out and installed without a facility.
This includes the cables themselves along with any related equipment (racks, cabinets, conduit, etc.). But creating a structured cabling system is about more than determining how everything will be initially installed. It also includes planning for the future by leaving extra space for new infrastructure to be installed as new technologies are adopted, extra equipment is installed, and existing infrastructure is upgraded over the years.
Network cables are among the most common pieces of equipment found during a Structured Cabling Installation project. Any and every building will have many different cables running through the walls, floors, and ceilings to provide a building with power and communications.
This includes power cables as well as various wires and cords used by the telecom industry including Ethernet, coax, telephone lines, and in some cases fiber optics. Fiber is newer than those other options and may not be present if a building is older and has not upgraded to more modern pieces of technology yet.
Structured Cabling Installation Areas
No two structured cabling installations are exactly the same. Each building is a little different and even buildings with the same basic structure may have different needs when it comes to computers and other equipment. That being said, any structured cabling installation blueprint can be broken down into six different sections. First is the entrance facility.
This is where cables will enter the building from the outside. These are cables that are connected to larger grids handled by utility companies, such as telecom and power. Typically, they can be located by finding the demarcation point. The area also includes equipment such as entrance pathways, circuit protection devices, and transition hardware.
Next, there are equipment rooms. These are areas such as telecom closets where IT equipment like servers are located, typically housed on racks or cabinets in a temperature-controlled environment. These rooms are usually locked to keep the heat-producing equipment cool and ensure unauthorized personnel does not have access.
Then there is backbone cabling. These are the cables within the walls, floors, and ceilings that connect the entrance facility to any equipment or telecommunications rooms. This section is further divided into the intrabuilding cable (inside one building) and interbuilding cable (running between two or more buildings).
A telecommunications room is like a miniature equipment room. It contains secondary equipment such as modems and routers that serve as a half-way point between the main server and equipment used directly by personnel, such as desktop computers.
Horizontal cabling refers to cables that run between The Telecommunications Rooms and wall outlet. This gives devices like computers and printers access to the network and only connects these smaller secondary devices.
Work area components are small cables used by end-users, typically to connect computers or other equipment to wall outlets (power cords, Ethernet cables, etc.).
What are the Advantages of Structured Cabling Installation?
Having a centralized hub ensures that data can run through a network more quickly. Say someone needs to move a file from one workstation computer to another. With a structured cabling system, the file starts on Computer 1, moves into the Telecommunications Room, and then lands on Computer 2. It starts at Point A, proceeds to Point B, and ends at Point C.
But if a network is not organized, there may not be a direct path for the file to move through. If computers and other machines are crisscrossed together with a not real method to the madness, a file might have to jump through a dozen different machines to get to where it is going. This will clearly take longer and eat up more network resources.
Structured cabling also makes networks easier to physically manage. Everything is neat and organized and labeled, making it easy to find. In the event something breaks, those problems become a quick fix, easily implemented a solution.