Wi-Fi Cabling for the Office
WI-FI Networks For Business
Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi cabling are a crucial element of any successful office in the modern business world. But your Wi-Fi needs to be at the top of its game to maximise your productivity. However not all offices manage to tick this box. The main reason that so many offices fall short is that they have a poor signal. Therefore, to avoid these connectivity black spots, most offices install a number of Wi-Fi routers. However these routers, however, require network cabling to connect to the wider network.
Wi-Fi network cabling brings a whole new set of logistics and questions to the table. Therefore let’s look at the factors you need to keep in mind.
Do you design wireless networks?
A wireless network will depend on several factors regarding your location, size of premises, the technology requirements and number of users
However the common factor in all Wi-Fi installations is that they all require a stable professionally installed structured cabling network. This links together the central hardware and access points throughout the building
Each individual manufacturer and Wi-Fi system will require a different specification of data cabling to support its performance. The access points might require Cat6 or Cat6a. This depends on whether you require 1 Gigabit or 10 Gigabit transmission. In addition the access points may only require a single cable for connection or a dual cable for transmission purposes
Working with Wi-Fi Cabling
Your Wi-Fi routers are nothing without network cabling. Therefore it’s vital that they are connected. Furthermore they need to be connected properly. Cabling, of course can be a complicated area to get to grips with. However you can implement it by following these best practices:
Design a Plan:
Where would the cabling end points be? What areas will be impacted by the cabling routes to get there? Which employee will be affected by this installation
The installation outline will then designate the scheduling of the structured cabling installation.
Will the installation need to be undertaken when the office is closed and empty?
Do the routes avoid employee areas and can therefore be done within normal working hours
What are the health and safety implications for installation when employees are present?
Before embarking on a full-scale cable installation program you need to build a plan. Offices are not just hectic environments packed full of employees. In addition they contain substantial amounts of office equipment. Thus this needs to be taken into account. Prior planning, therefore, is crucial to deliver a hassle-free install.
Work with the Industry approved Cables:
Cat5e cables are only recommended for Wi-Fi usage if they are already installed and costs or installation possibilities are an issue to install new cables
A minimum of Cat6 is recommended for new WiFi cabling. However Cat6 is limited to 1 Gigabit on the standard 100m links. They can achieve 10 gigabit up to 55mm. However this is dependent on manufacturer specifications
Cat6a cabling can support 10 gigabit up to 100m. Therefore with technology evolving at a rapid rate it is recommended for todays requirements and future Wi-Fi requirements that Cat6a is installed or considered
Naturally, Cat6 and Cat6a cables are more expensive, so you will need to take this into account.
To get the best out of your Wi-Fi access points and speeds you need to install the best cables for your needs. The main cabling options that are currently installed to Wi-Fi access points are Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a Ethernet cables. Cat5e cables are more than capable of delivering Wi-Fi in some instances, but the speed at which they operate is eclipsed by Cat6a cables.
Make Sure Cables are Identifiable:
It is good practice to have separate patch panels in the Comms Room data cabinets just for the WiFi cabling. This designates the outlets from the rest of the structured cabling outlets. Furthermore for ease of identification. Choosing a separate dedicated colour patch lead for the Wi-Fi cabling patching is also recommended
In certain installations the actual cable sheath is installed as a separate colour. This will depend on manufacturer options and availability
The sheer amount of cabling in any office means that identifying individual cables can be difficult. And, given the importance of Wi-Fi, you need to make sure that you can identify Wi-Fi cables quickly and easily. This will help to speed up both maintenance queries and any upgrades to your cable system. The most recommended method for identifying Wi-Fi cables is labelling and colour coding.
Future Proof Your Cabling:
The choice of Dual Cat6a cables to access points at this stage will cover the majority of requirements for technology at this stage however
Because the business world is prone to changes it’s important that you practice scalability. This scalability also applies to your Wi-Fi cabling. The good news is that Cat6a and Cat6 Ethernet cables are backwards compatible with Cat5e cables, so they can work together on the same network. However, if your business is likely to need very high speed connections in the future you may need to consider Cat7 cables. These are expensive, but will give you an edge over competitors and reduce the need for future upgrades.
How many cables do I need for wireless?
The final consideration is to check that your access points operate on single or dual data cabling links. Again with future proofing if you feel you may upgrade in the future its best to install dual ports to each access point to future proof your network
The consideration of wifi cabling will also depend on PoE and PoE+ requirements of the access points. Thus higher categories of data cabling are able to transmit data and PoE more efficiently
We delve into PoE more in this article – Power Over Ethernet Explained
WI-FI speed & Reliability
Getting your Wi-Fi cabling correct can make a significant difference to your Wi-Fi network. And when this strategy is successful you will benefit from enhanced productivity and a competitive advantage. But you need to plan your cabling strategy carefully. Planning for both your immediate and future needs is the surest way to achieve this, so make sure that every scenario is planned for.
Should I have a wired data connection or just wireless?
The recommendation is that PC’s and Telephones are directly wired and the WiFI system is used in addition to the fixed wired system,
Fixed connections transmit at a higher speed than wireless connections and a direct link is a guaranteed link to the network. It’s not depend on being in range of the access points or dependent on how many devices are accessing that access point
The most common problem seen with wifi installations is during a refurbishment or new build commercial project when the data cabling is designed and drawn up as part of the overall data and electrical wiring
Most design doesn’t usually take into consideration number of users, manufacturers or who the information technology is who will be supporting the end client
Therefore when the client moves in the technology company finds that there are one or more of the following
- Not enough wifi outlets
- Outlets are in the wrong place for correct coverage
- The installed data cabling isn’t sufficient enough for the hardware transmission speeds
- The cabling hasn’t been tested or commissioned correctly
Its recommended with a new installation to design the Wi-Fi system before any works take place to ensure the correct system is installed
Read more about Wireless Networking and Mobile Computing and how we can help you