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Structured Cabling System Components

Every data and telephone cabling installation is unique. However the majority of projects all consist of a similar set of structured cabling system components.

The areas that they have included and the way that they will be installed all differ. Furthermore depending on the size of the project not all elements will be present

There are 6 areas that are generally found in every data and telephone cabling installation.

6 Structured Cabling System Components

  1. The Incoming Services or Entrance Facility
  2. The Main Communications or Equipment Room
  3. Separate Sub Cabinets or Telecommunication Rooms
  4. Backbone Cabling linking them together
  5. The general work areas
  6. Horizontal data cabling serving the work areas

On larger projects all these will be present. However on smaller projects they may be combined. For example the entrance facility and communications room may be the same room. Furthermore there may only be one cabinet and therefore no sub cabinets or backbone cabling

The Incoming Services or Entrance Facility 

This area is where the incoming services enter the building and create a demarcation point. This can be for both data and telephone cabling. For example a BT distribution point or a blown fibre housing box.

In some buildings this might go directly into the communications room. However it is usually separate and then linked to the comms room. Meanwhile in a multi tenanted building the entrance facility will house all services. Consequently each tenant then connects their own communications room to this area

The Main Communications or Equipment Room

In short the communications room is where all the hardware and control technology are house for a client. Likewise this is generally the same for multi floors or single floor use. The incoming active broadband router, firewall, servers storage and main hardware are generally housed in the main communications room.

In addition other technology and hardware will be housed in this central hub. These can include the following

  • Audio Visual equipment such as satellite boxes, storage, music servers, and digital signage controllers
  • CCTV recording equipment and screens
  • BMS Controls
  • Access Control
  • Smart lighting controllers

The building may have several cabinets throughout. However the main communications room will generally house the central hub of these services.

The communications room also has to take into consideration present and future  requirements. Furthermore the required power, cooling and security. However in smaller buildings the space might just be a wall mounted cabinet on the wall of an office

We have written a further article of how to size and design a suitable comms room space in any installation which you can find here

Designing and Allocating Space for Communication Rooms

Separate Sub Cabinets or Telecommunication Rooms

Generally when the building is over a large space or on several floors there will be more than one communication room space. Thus telecommunication rooms or satellite cabinets are created

The cabinet locations are designed to ensure that no data cabling runs exceed 90 metres. This is the standardised maximum length of any copper data cabling installation

Compared to the main communications room they don’t usually contain a lot of or any of the control technology and hardware. In this case they house additional data switches and the patch panels for the data cabling to that dedicated cabinet or room. Generally each floor will have its own cabinet or room. However depending on size several floors can be served from a single room.

Likewise in many designs the main communications room will house the data cabling to that floor and maybe one or two others. Furthermore in a smaller installation they may only be one comms room that  all the data cabling runs back to

As a result of creating these satellite cabinets they require connection back to the main comms room. This is done by backbone cabling.

Backbone Cabling

When the project requires more than one set of cabinets the design of backbone cabling becomes important. Generally these are fibre optic cabling installations but can at times be installed in copper

Structured cabling design is based around a star design. Thus each outlet has a data cable that runs directly back to the comms cabinet. Similarly the backbone design follows the same pattern

All the sub cabinets will have a direct link back to the main communications room. Furthermore in some cases they will have 2 separate dedicated links between the two areas. In addition these will follow two separate routes to create resilience in cases of damage to one of the links. Likewise in some installations the sub cabinets will also have links between them to create additional resilience in case of broken or damaged cables. Thus is one cable gets damaged then they are alternative paths for the data transmissions to tarvel

The backbone cabling is generally fibre optic cabling due to its great bandwidth capability. In addition it is also able to carry multiple channel connections over a single cable. For example each of the following may require a separate connection between comms room and sub cabinet

  • Data Connection
  • VoIP phone systems
  • CCTV
  • Access Control
  • BMS
  • WiFi
  • AV

Fibre optic cabling achieves this by installing a 16 core single cable to cover this. (2 cores per link). In contrast 7 individual copper cables would need to be installed to achieve the same connections. Furthermore the fibre optic will generally be oversized such as a 24 core to allow for future growth.

In the same way that data cabling to the work areas cannot exceed 90m neither can it in backbone links. Hence if the links are greater than 90m then fibre optic cabling must be used

Work Areas

The work area is any area when work is carried out or requires coverage. This can include areas such as:

  • Desks, Meeting Rooms, Conference Facilities, Reception
  • Cafes, Restaurant, Kitchen and Welfare Areas
  • Warehouse and Storage
  • External Areas
  • Bespoke working requirements

Each building or campus is different. However any area can be a work area and all follow a similar set of guidelines for cabling to them. Furthermore they have guidelines to plan for the present and future considerations of that particular workspace. This will include the data cabling, power and containment.

Furthermore the type of termination points will depend on the location. Will they be floor boxes or grommets or mounted on the wall. In addition will waterproff or IP rated termination boxes be required for external or warehouse areas

Horizontal Cabling

The work areas are served by the horizontal cabling. It is referred to as horizontal cabling as generally the cabling runs horizontally and directly from a dedicated cabinet on the same floor. However as previously mentioned in some cases on floor cabinets may server several floors.

The maximum distance is 90m from work area to cabinet. This is the same for data and telephone cabling, CCTV, WiFi or any other cabling run over data

The choice of horizontal cabling will depend on the requirements of the clients hardware. For example Cat5e and Cat6 are suitable for Gigabit transmission speeds. However for 10 Gigabit Cat6a is recommended as a minimum cable specification

This article explains the differences in cabling further What is the difference between Cat5 Cat6 Cat7 Cat8 Cabling?

In some installation although rarely fibre optic cabling is installed directly to the desk. Generally this is for high security or high speed applications. This is referred to as Fibre to the Desk or FTTD

Summary of Structured Cabling System Components

Each project is different and the size will dictate to how the design will go. However with the 6 components above the basis of a suitable installation is built

We offer free surveys and advice on your data and telephone cabling requirements so call us to discuss further


For further articles with regards to structured cabling system components please visit our Knowledge Center HERE

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