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Why you should insist on Structured Cabling Testing and what you should insist on

How do you test a data cable?

A data cable can be tested in a variety of ways. However with structured cabling testing there are certain standards and reports that should be insisted. Otherwise you will not know that the data cabling installed is actually working or will support the hardware it is supporting for data cabling transmission

  • Multimeter

This will test individually for continuity that connector 1 goes to connector 1 at the other end. This is an unsuitable test as it doesn’t test for any performance standards

  • Network cable tester (Mod Tap device)

This device will plug the data cable in each end and check all 8 connectors are connected correctly end to end with no shorts or breaks. However it will not test for performance or interference

  • Cable certification testers (Level 3 testers)

The first 2 testers will cost under £100.00. In contrast a certification tester will be priced in the thousands. Thereby showing that the level of testing is vast and a lot more technical

What is a level 3 tester or Cable Certification Tester?

These testers will test the data cabling links to provide operational assurance. In this instance by testing a unique set of network tests to a certain standard of tests and requirements

These are the only tools that give you a guaranteed “Pass” or “Fail” results after the tester tests to a certain set of industry standards. Subsequently this can be a test to a certain regulatory body or for a specified category of cable.  It will tell you if the installed Cat6 cable is operating to the correct standard. Furthermore to the specifications of that category of cable and not just connected correctly

How do you test a data cable with a Cable Certification Tester?

The testing unit will have a main unit and a remote head. The units are plugged in either end of a structured cabling link and then a operational test will be run down the cable and back along it for analysis

A few examples of the tests it carries out are

  • Length – How long the installed cable is and is it within the 100m max
  • Wiremap – Are all 8 cores wired correctly with no shorts and crossovers
  • Attenuation – The reduction in signal loss along the data cable
  • NEXT – Interference from the transmitted signal coupled back
  • DC Lopp Resistance – Total resistance of 2 conductors at one end of a link
  • Return Loss – Loss of power in the signal which is returned or reflected

Structured Cabling Testing – Reasons to have your installation tested

  • Firstly if it’s not tested you won’t know if the installer has

    1. Terminated the data cabling correctly end to end
    2. Terminated the network cabling correctly in the right methods
    3. Additionally terminated the structured cabling to the correct standards
  • Secondly, not all cabling terminations are equal. Poor terminations can result in the following

    1. Slower network speeds (i.e. only running at 100MB instead of 1 Gb)
    2. Interference on the data cable
    3. Interference onto neighbouring data cables
    4. Drop outs (i.e. phone calls drop or lost connection to servers)
  • Structured Cabling Testing checks that the correct patch panel ports go to the correct data module location. If the system isn’t tested this issue won’t be highlighted by the data cabling installer to rectify. Your system is then unusable from a management perspective
  • Finally you have accountability! If you receive test results, it shows at a point in time that everything was installed correctly. Therefore working to the specified standard. This eliminates the blame culture later on
  • Furthermore testing checks that all the elements of the installation have been installed correctly

    1. Data cabling has been pulled in correctly, away from power, without and kinks and twists
    2. The minimum of exposed cable has been allowed for when terminating
    3. The cable is terminated in the correct format
    4. The modules are good and snugly fitting
    5. Without these steps done correctly the structured cabling link won’t pass
  • Finally Structured Cabling Testing shows that the materials used are to standard as well as the data cabling installation. Poor modules, panels and cable will fail every time regardless so the quality of installation

What is a Fluke Test in Networking?

Fluke is one of a few manufacturers of cable certification testers. The report below is from a fluke tester

Fluke make a range of testers for structured cabling, fibre optic cabling and coaxial cabling testing

What you should insist on from your Data Cabling Test Results

  1. That Structured Cabling Testing is done with Data Cabling Cable Analyser and not a cheaper mod tap tester. This is an example from a Fluke tester


Structured Cabling Testing test sheet

Without 1 of these test results PER CABLE you are taking a risk that your data cabling installation is not fit for purpose.

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