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What is Structured Cabling?

When discussing internet connectivity, phone lines, and connections between hardware (computer to printer for example), cabling is an obvious consideration. Hardware generally needs a power source and data or telephone connectivity requires cabling to support that connection. For small businesses, cabling is an afterthought as the hardware requirements remain small and connectivity is simple. In its simplest form, structured cabling gets your cables off the floor and out of the way, and lets you plug in what you need, where you need it.

Mid to large sized businesses, particularly those with more complex connectivity requirements need a cabling infrastructure to support multiple methods of communication and connectivity to the entire staff/workforce. Structured cabling is a comprehensive system of cabling and associated hardware that exists as a complete telecommunications infrastructure. Structured cabling begins at the point where the service provider’s equipment, cabling, and hardware ends. This is the point of demarcation or Network Interface Device.

Structured cabling systems take into account customer requirements and hardware, each network service provider’s specifications, the architecture layout of the building, function of cabling installation, and manufacturers warrantees. The cabling industry accepts the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in conjunction with TIA/EIA (Telecommunications Industry Association standards), as the responsible organization for providing and maintaining standards and practices within the profession. It has published a series of standards to design, install, and maintain cabling installations. Advanced Business Networks Savannah adheres to these standards with all structured cabling installations.

The benefits that a structured cabling system brings to an organization is the ability to plug the right hardware into the optimal place for all business purposes. Examples of this are machines with specific power or data terminals, non-standard placement of power or connectivity outlets, and neat organized cable paths that do not impede operations. Structured cabling, coupled with deliberate planning, allow all needed hardware to be powered and connected.

Reduction of cable clutter, and organization of cables are one of the major benefits of structured cabling as well. When cabling is planned and the proper techniques and materials are used to route and terminate cables, there is no clutter or any obstruction created. This gets the tools you use to do business every day out of your way.

Installations typically include entrance facilities, which take into account cabling components needed to provide a means of connecting outside service facilities to the main premise cabling. This entrance facility is the point of demarcation between the service provider and the business. Entrance facilities are generally where fire rated cabling begins as well. Entrance facilities include underground, tunnel, buried, and aerial; with aerial being the most common for smaller businesses.

Backbone cabling includes the main cabling from the entrance facility to each building, floor, or room. These cables handle the major network traffic. The ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A standard defines backbone cabling as follows: "The function of the backbone cabling is to provide interconnections between telecommunications closets, equipment rooms, and entrance facilities in the telecommunications cabling system structure. Backbone cabling consists of the backbone cables, intermediate and main cross-connects, mechanical terminations, and patch cords or jumpers used for backbone-to-backbone cross-connection. Backbone cabling also includes cabling between buildings."

IT closets, equipment rooms, or stacks that contain switches/routers/etc are connected to the backbone cabling and provide the interface to the individual pieces of hardware. The hardware is connected at the cabling connectors.

A structured cabling system is designed to withstand organization growth and technological advancement of 3 to 10 years. Backbone cabling and entrance facilities are replaced on the longer end of this timeline with terminal cabling and switching replaced on the shorter end of this window.

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