A structured cabling system is one in which all cables are terminated on one, or more, patch panels that are usually installed in a rack within a cabinet. Usually the cabinet also houses a data network switch and other related equipment such as a phone system, router, alarm equipment, cctv equipment and power fail equipment.
Where possible such equipment should also be mounted on the same rack as the patch panels to facilitate easy connection of the terminal ports of the equipment to cable termination points. These connections are made by relatively short patch leads terminated in RJ45 plugs.
Therefore, a major benefit of a structured cabling system is that it enables any type of terminal equipment to be connected to any cable outlet (ie socket). The patching system in the cabinet makes it easy to achieve this.
For example, if a telephone terminal is connected to a workstation socket it could easily be connected to the phone system by connecting a patch lead from the appropriate patch panel socket to the appropriate phone system extension port.
However, this any-to-any connectivity is becoming less of a benefit as all equipment (including phone systems) become IP based. This means that all cables can be patched to the data network switch and the switch port to which they are connected is usually irrelevant.
The move to IP based phone systems also affects structured cabling system installation in another way.
Most IP phones have pass-through connections to which computer equipment can be connected. This means that it is not necessary to have individual phone and computer sockets at each workstation. All that is needed at each workstation is a single socket connected to a single cable that is terminated on a patch panel which is in turn patched to any port of the data network switch.
The favourable consequence of the move to IP based phone systems is that the cost of structured cabling systems will be reduced (ie less cable, less sockets, smaller patch panels and smaller racks and cabinets).
In an all-IP local network the main benefit of a structured cabling system is that it offers guaranteed performance and is easy to manage. In other words, sockets can be physically activated and deactivated from a central location.
Structured cabling systems are often called Cat 5 or Cat 6 cabling systems. The terms Cat 5 and Cat 6 refer to the quality of the cable and of the termination equipment such as sockets and patch panels. It also refers to the installation standards. For example, Cat 6 cable can’t be bent as much as Cat 5 cable.
Cat 6 systems support higher data rates than Cat 5, with Cat 6 supporting a maxmimun speed of 10 Gb ethernet and Cat 5 supporting a maximum of 1 Gb ethernet.
[NB Cat 5 is now referred to as Cat5e following an enhancement to the specification several years ago.]
Before commencing a structured cabling installation we would take care to understand your requirements in terms of the numbers of sockets and the most appropriate cable routing (eg under floors, in ceiling voids and in trunking).
We would then plan the installation to minimise the disruption to your day-to-day business activities.
Our commitment to careful planning and the use of trained installation engineers guarantee a high quality, easy to manage, neat and tidy structured cabling system.
Please get in touch using the Contact Form if you require a structured cabling system for existing or new premises either on its own or as part of a larger telecommunications project.