What is a structured cabling installation?
A structured cabling consultant will design the overall cabling installation. This encompasses the overall design of a data cabling project. Thus from the start of the design process, through the installation and onto the finalising and commissioning stage
The main focus is that the design will support numerous hardware uses and be suitable for future technology as well as the current technology
The structured cabling system consists of not only the data cabling itself but also the elements through which it passes and in which is terminated or housed
The main elements of a structured cabling installation are (Industry abbreviations in brackets)
- The incoming services or Entrance Facility (EF)
- The Communications or Equipment Room (ER)
- Distributed communications room on other floors or parts of the building
- Telecommunications Rooms (TR)
- Telecommunications Enclosures (TE)
- The backbone cabling linking through the building
- The main horizontal data cabling from cabinet to the floor
- The work area
Each of these parts of the structured cabling system have a set of guidelines for best practice installation. Furthermore each standard can run itself into many pages. A structured cabling consultant will incorporate these standards into your installation
The following is an outline of expectations and uses of each of these elements of a structured cabling system
Entrance Facility (EF)
This is the part of the building where the incoming services enter and terminate. This creates a demarcation point between the outside provider and the services for the building. This would be where the incoming phone lines, fibre optics or Ethernet is terminated within the building from the outside provider.
In larger building the Ethernet cabling might terminate in a plant room and then have separate cabling links to each separate tenant space.
In a smaller building or single occupancy this may be housed within the main communications or equipment room (ER)
Communications or Equipment Room (ER)
This is typically the main technology room for the individual tenant. This room will house the main communication equipment. From here it will distribute both data cabling to users. In addition it will distribute backbone cabling to other cabinets. These could situated throughout the building on separate floors or in different buildings.
In many commercial spaces the main communications room will be the only room. Thus all data cabling will originate and terminate in here
Telecommunication Room and Enclosures (TR and TE)
Data cabling has a maximum distance of 90m when installed from a cabinet to a user outlet. This allows for 5m patch leads each end for an overall maximum link of 100m.
In buildings where user outlets are more than 90 from the cabinet, sub cabinets are installed. These are recommended to be installed in a separate room which will house the additional cabinet and hardware to connect the users it serves.
In some designs regardless of distance one telecommunication room per floor is recommended for serving that floor but space does not always make this possible
For small working areas or where space is limited telecommunication enclosures are also used to server work areas. These are a specific use of a cabinet outside of a dedicated room such as mounting a small cabinet on a wall in a training area, warehouse, or outside building
Once there are more than one data cabinet in a building these will need to be linked together to create communication throughout the entire building.
The backbone links are typically advised to consist of fibre optic links between cabinet and be a minimum of OM3 or OM4 multimode fibre optic cabling. In some cases singlemode fibre can be employed.
Copper backbone links are also commonly used but usually to serve a small space or smaller commercial tenant as it avoids the additional requirement of fibre switches and transmitters.
The consideration when installing backbone links will depend on the number of cabinets they are serving, how many links each cabinet needs and the bandwidth required between cabinet.
If a single link is required then a copper cable may be suitable. However multiple links can be contained within one fibre optic cable against multiple individual cable links when installing copper.
A Cat6a cable will connect at 10 gigabit up to 100m the same as an OM3 fibre optic cable but if you required 12 links you would have to install 12 cables against the single 24 core fibre cable and space and installation time then becomes an issue
The horizontal element is the data cabling originating from each data cabinet and then serving the work areas. It includes the user modules, actual data cable, patch panels and patch leads.
The work areas and hardware they service may include desks computers and telephones, WIFI access points, CCTV and Access Control, BMS controllers, Audio Visual, Mobile Boosters and many others
The recognised cabling elements of horizontal structured cabling are
- 4 pair twisted pair copper cabling such as Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7 and Cat8
- Multimode fibre cabling
- Singlemode fibre cabling
Horizontal cabling is mainly installed in copper cabling but in situation where high bandwidth or longer distance are required then fibre optic are employed.
The maximum distance of these links if they are copper are 90m and can either be installed directly from the cabinet to each outlet or via a consolidation point or MUTOA when a bank of outlets is terminated in a set location such as under the floor and then localised links are installed to desks from that position. This allows for flexibility in moving spaces but does increase the initial data cabling installation
The chart below compares the different cabling bandwidths and speeds and then how different cables can transmit the 10 gigabit standard
Copper Data Cabling Comparison Chart
10 Gigabit Cabling Comparison Chart
The Work Area
The work area is the area where each user is to be located.
This will consist of the actual termination outlets and the method in which it is housed. Commonly this could be in a floor box, direct to the desk through a grommet or mounted on a wall in either dado trunking or surface mounted.
The recommendation is that each user has a minimum of 2 data outlets each
Other components through a structured cabling system
The components above are the core of every structured cabling installation. Furthermore thehe variations of each will vary greatly depending on the size of the company. In addition the size and style of the building and of course overall budget. As a qualified structured cabling consultant company we fit our designs to your space
Other components that serve as part of these installation include the type of containment required to house and support these cables, the power requirements for the hardware, the cooling for the communication rooms and the lighting within those rooms
For further structured cabling consultant articles please visit https://www.nmcabling.co.uk/knowledge-centre/