The ABC of Structured Network Cabling

The ABC of Structured Network Cabling

Posted on by FS.COM

Point-to-Point cabling has been used for over 25 years to connect proprietary control networks or interconnect devices. However, more and more applications are moving to higher density, higher speed and larger scale. These applications such as networks and data centers require expertise in structured cabling. This post is to describe the basic knowledge of structure cabling.

What Is Structured Cabling?

Structured cabling is a planned and complete cabling system which provides a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure. This infrastructure serves a wide range of applications, including voice, data, video and control for today’s and tomorrow’s network designs. In general, a structured cabling system consists of six standardized subsystems, as shown in the following picture:

structured cabling

Subsystem Name Function
Entrance Facilities As the point where the telephone company network ends and connects with the on-premises wiring at the customer premises.
Equipment Room A place used to house equipment and wiring consolidation points, serving the users inside the building or campus.
Backbone Cabling Made connection between the equipment/telecommunications rooms that are typically on different floors.
Telecommunications Room and Enclosure Connection between the backbone cabling and horizontal cabling.
Horizontal cabling Made connection from telecommunications rooms to individual outlets or work areas on the floor, usually through the wireways, conduits or ceiling spaces of each floor.
Work Area Components connect end-user equipment to outlets in the horizontal cabling system.

 

Standards for Structured Cabling

Design and installation of structured cabling should comply with a set of standards which specify cabling the different premise types for communications and controls using different kinds of cable, e.g. four pair, twisted pair copper cabling or multimode/singlemode fiber optic cabling. These standards are made by some industrial standard organizations such as ANSI (American National Standards Institute), EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance), TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) and so on.

Generally, standards that are published by ISO/IEC, CENELEC and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) are used internationally. For most countries in Europe, CENELEC (e.g. EN50173), ISO/IEC (ISO/IEC 11801) standards are widely used and also accepted in most parts of the world. While in USA, the TIA issues the ANSI/TIA-568 standards for telecommunications cabling in commercial premises and are also internationally recognized.

Media Consideration for Structured Cabling

structured cablingFor backbone cabling and horizontal cabling in a structured cabling system, there are different media options, normally, optical fiber or copper cable.

Optical fiber is the preferred choice for backbone cabling because it can reach significantly longer than copper cables, and also supports higher bandwidths. Moreover, optical fiber offers higher network resilience through lower convergence times for uplinks and rings as compared to similarly architected copper channels.

Copper cabling is usually used for horizontal cabling and work area networks. With the port compatibility with switches and other equipment ports, it can also be used within equipment rooms. In fact, copper cables can be used for backbone cabling, but it is rare because of its distance limitation of 100 meters between active equipment, while the real interconnection between active equipment is normally longer than 100 meters in backbone cabling.

In addition to the backbone and horizontal cable consideration, a structure cabling system includes another building blocks such as cross-connect products, outlets, patch cable assemblies, and so on. These should be added into the consideration of your structure cabling system.

Last but not least, the cabling system longevity is also an important point for consideration. A future-proof backbone and horizontal cabling are required in order to meet the upgrade and migration of network.

Whether You Should Use Structured Cabling?

Talking about many knowledge of structure cabling above, the primary concern of most readers may be that “Whether I should use structured cabling?” Actually, this depends on your design specs, network longevity, maintainability and installation. As two main cabling methods for today’s Ethernet networks, structured cabling and Ethernet cabling are both widely applied. The following table shows us the pros and cons of selecting a structured cabling versus point-to-point cabling which may offer you some references.

Primary Considerations Sturcture Cabling Point-to-Point Cabling
Meet Design Specifications High cable density, many cables from panel to panel Low cable density, few cables from panel to machine
Testability at the panel can provide assurance for commissioning new ports and may yield potentially longer warranty terms Ring or linear topology for reach beyond 100 meters where distance between connection is lower than 100 meters
Maintainability Environments with multiple changes occuring Environments with minimal changes occurring
cable slack is required Slack cabling is undesired and precise cable lengths are required
Installation Multiple points of connectivity Easy and fast installation
Backbone and horizontal cabling is largely untouched Use where tight bends or moderate flexing is required
Use in areas where it is impractical or impossible to mount a patch panel or other cable connector interface
Network Longevity Designed in spare ports, no need to re-pull new cables for adds Impractical to have spare cable runs laying loose and/or unprotected
Fiber backbones with higher grade fiber such as OM3 or OM4 Higher performance with fewer connectors

 

Summary

Structured cabling is designed to handle a variety range of communication applications including telephone, video, high-speed data, etc. This post introduces the basic knowledge of structured cabling, as well as the comparison with point-to-point cabling, which helps you better understand it and determine whether to select it. To build a high-performance and reliable structure cabling system, besides the knowledge, you may also require a reliable and cost-effective product solution which can help you save more cost and achieve high performance. FS.COM offers a comprehensive production solution of optical fiber or copper for structured cabling connectivity. For more information, please contact us via sales@fs.com or 24/7 customer service: +1 (718) 577 1006.

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