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What Is Structured Cabling and Why Is It Important?
The term “structured cabling” conjures up images of neat, well-organized wiring. Neatness is certainly important — disorganized “spaghetti” cabling increases operational costs, management headaches, and the risk of unplanned downtime.
However, structured cabling is more than just that. It’s a comprehensive system of cables and related hardware that provides a flexible, future-ready infrastructure for data communications.
What Is Structured Cabling?
Structured cabling meets Electronic Industry Alliance/Telecommunications Industry Association (EIA/TIA) standards for design, installation, and documentation. These standards help ensure that the cabling plant delivers consistent performance while simplifying maintenance and troubleshooting and accommodating changes to the network. Structured cabling systems are subdivided into six elements.
6 Subsystems of Structured Cabling
- Entrance Facility. This is where service provider cabling and hardware come into the building and connect to your infrastructure.
- Backbone Cabling. Your backbone cabling connects the entrance facility to telecommunications rooms and equipment rooms.
- Telecommunications Room. This room houses the cross-connects and equipment that connect the backbone cabling with the horizontal cabling. In large facilities, there may be a telecommunications room on each floor.
- Equipment Room. The equipment room houses servers, switches, and other IT equipment. In some buildings, it may also serve as the telecommunications room and entrance facility.
- Work Area. This area includes components such as wall plates, adapters, and patch cables that connect computers, printers, IP phones, wireless access points, and other devices.
- Horizontal Cabling. Horizontal cabling includes all the cabling that connects telecom and equipment rooms with work areas. It comprises the majority of the system.
Why is Structured Cabling Important?
As IT infrastructures become denser and more complex, the value of structured cabling is magnified. Structured cabling makes it easier for your network to grow with your organization, using a modular design that supports new equipment and applications regardless of vendor.
Establishing consistency in the network infrastructure also reduces total cost of ownership (TCO). The International Engineering Consortium found that standardizing and consolidating cabling components cut initial construction costs by up to 30 percent and network maintenance costs by up to 40 percent.
As with any IT initiative, proper planning is essential. Although standards provide the foundation for structured cabling design and installation, it’s vital to plan with your organization’s future in mind. Consider the number of users and devices you’ll need to support, the location of those users, and how much bandwidth will be required to meet future demands. Will you need to account for additional wireless access points? Where will you need Power over Ethernet to run power through data lines?
It’s also important to understand cabling trends before moving forward with designing and installing a structured cabling system. Cabling continues to move toward fiber and away from copper cabling as organizations seek increased network speed. Because fiber optic cables are thinner and lighter than copper, they can save space and improve airflow in the data center. However, they require special considerations for installation and management to reduce the risk of damage.
How Can Enconnex Help?
Enconnex offers all the network cabling products necessary for your structured cabling system. Additionally, we can provide a full range of consulting, design, and installation services for your structured cabling infrastructure. With Enconnex, your structured cabling will be designed by Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) engineers. Installation is handled by manufacturer-certified installers and backed by warranties from both the manufacturer and Enconnex.
Our team will develop bid specifications, conduct a planning, budgeting, and engineering review, and ensure that your implementation plan is EIA/TIA compliant. Enconnex connectivity products are engineered to meet the highest standards of quality, reliability, and performance.
Contact us to learn more about how structured cabling can enhance your IT operations and prepare your organization for growth.
Posted by Mike Chen on November 9, 2021
Mike has 20+ years of senior program management, product management, and consulting experience in IT, consumer electronics, and communication products, both at finished goods and components levels. Mike is the Product Manager for Network Cabling at Enconnex.