Data Cabling FAQs

Questions and Answers – Data Cabling FAQs

Below are a selection of Data Cabling FAQs that outline elements of the data cabling industry.

There is also a structured knowledge centre of difference categories of the data cabling infrastructure at our Knowledge Centre which you can access HERE 

What is Structured Cabling? 

Data cabling is the installation of the actual cabling within a building.
However structured cabling is the design and installation of such cabling systems. In addition the structured design will support multiple hardware systems and be suitable for today’s needs and those of the future. For example a cat6 or cat6a cable can connect any of the following:

  • Telephone
  • Wi-Fi
  • PC
  • TV
  • CCTV
  • Music Servers
  • Printers
  • Hubs, Routers & Switches

This is all by just plugging in differently at the main cable area where all the cables originate from

The correct design of the structured cabling will provide predictable performance. Furthermore it will aid future expansion, relocation and moves and changes

The design will consider whether to cable directly to each location where desks and furniture are not expected to move. Furthermore the option might be to cable to distribution points which then link locally to desks. Thus allowing for easier future moves and re-arrangements of desks and furniture

Data Cabling and Hardware

All hardware has a bandwidth and speed requirement. Thus it will have a required data cabling infrastructure to be installed to enable that hardware to perform at its required levels. Furthermore to operate and work as required. An example would be a requirement for a computer with a 10 Gigabit connection 80 metres from the main cabinet. Therefore this would require a structured cabling system of Cat6a cabling to be installed. However Cat5e and Cat6 would not support these transmission requirements

The structured cabling system should cover all elements of the building hardware and technology requirements. Furthermore it should bring them all into a central design. This design would include the cabinet space and locations. In addition whether they are in a single location or split over several floors. Finally how the various locations are linked. For example whether they are linked via copper or fibre optic cabling.

The containment and spaces that the cabling will travel through will also be a design consideration. The cabling must be correctly contained and supported to enable longevity and performance. The structured cabling spaces and containment must also allow for future growth of additional cables to travel through these areas. Therefore the guidance to 40% fill on initial install and 60% maximum fill is the BICSI standard for example

With a correctly installed system your requirements of today and of tomorrow will be catered for. Furthermore whatever hardware you choose to add will be supported.

Cat5 / Cat6 what’s the difference?Data Cabling FAQs- Questions and answers | Data Cabling London

The general difference between Cat5e cabling and Cat6 data cabling is in the transmission performance. Thus an extension of the available bandwidth from 100 MHz for category 5e to 250 MHz for category 6. Thus resulting in better insertion loss, near end crosstalk (NEXT), return loss, and equal level far end crosstalk (ELFEXT).

These improvements provide a higher signal to noise ratio. Therefore allowing higher reliability for current applications and higher data rates for future applications.

We cover the differences further in this article What is the difference between Cat5 and Cat6  Also see ‘Types of Cabling’

Should CAT 6 replace CAT 5e?

Industry predictions indicate that 80 to 90 present of all new installations will be cabled with category 6 and above. However the fact that category 6 link and channel requirements are backward compatible to category 5e makes it very easy for customers to choose category 6 and supersede category 5e in their networks. Applications that worked over category 5e will work over category 6. Cat6A and above are also taking over specifications for new installations, especially in data centres and Audio Visual Installations. In addition any networks requiring a 10 Gigabit infrastructure.
Is Cat6 cable better than CAT5e? Read our recent post

What is the maximum length of CAT5 – CAT5e cable?

90m for the permanent link installation and an allowance for 10m of patch cords at the ends combined. A direct link can also be installed up to 100m

In addition this is also the same distance for Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7 and Cat8

What’s the maximum distance between cabinet and data cabling points for Cat5e/Cat6?

The maximum is 90m between the patch panel and the data point in the same manner as above

What factors will affect the performance of Cat5e cable?

Poor installation, poor terminations, and inferior materials are the main issues with performance on cabling systems. If the cable is poorly installed and terminated then data loss and errors will be a continuous problem, from lost data, dropped VOIP Calls and poor Visual displays, Interference from other cables and outside factors such as electrical, microwave, lighting and noise will also affect the performance of the cable

Cat7 – what is Cat7 cabling and why would I use it

Cat7 cable has increased performance and increased protection against outside interference. With a bandwidth of up to 600MHZ its increase in speed potential over Cat5e / Cat6 is considerable. Also each pair of wires (4 pairs) are individually shielded as well as an overall shielding for the cable itself. This provides a great protection from outside noise and interference. It’s especially useful in areas of high speed data transfer in large cable bundles and within the Audio Visual Industry

Cat7 cabling is covered in greater detail in this article also: What is Cat7 Ethernet

What do I need to consider in terms of structured data cabling to future proof my business for the next 5/10 years?

The major decision is where your office will be based in the future and what requirements you have for your systems. Cat5e is suitable for Gigabit data and therefore suitable to most offices. However with Large files, Audio Visual distribution and CCTV innovations a Cat6 or Cat6a with future proof your offices for a longer period

Can I use CAT 5 Cable in Power over Ethernet applications?

Cat5e and Cat6 can both effectively run POE applications up to 90m. However due to power dissipation there is better performance and power efficiently with Cat6a cabling running POE devices if being incorporated into a new design See more technical information…

What is a patch cable?

A patch cable is used at the cabinet end for linking the dedicated cabling port to the required equipment in the communications cabinet. For example an outlet could be “patched” from the panel to a Data Switch, Telephone Switch, CCTV Switch, WIFI Switch Etc. The difference to standard cable is Patch cable is stranded for flexibility, whereas standard cable is solid copper

Fibre optic cabling – when is it better to use Fibre?

Fibre cable carries greater Bandwidth and over longer distances. It is not limited by the 90/100m limit of copper cable and has distance potential of 40km in some cases. It also isn’t affected by noise or outside influences as are copper cables so is a perfect solution when linking cabinets through risers in a building. As a standard guide when linking separate cabinet’s fibre optic links should be used.

For a more in depth article on this please view our article What is the difference between copper cable and fibre optic cable?

What is VoIP?Data Cabling FAQs._What is VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) use digital technology to send voice signals over your cabling infrastructure. Voice is converted to a data transmission and converted back to a voice signal at the users end

For a more in depth article on this please view our article What is VOIP

 VOIP – can I use VOIP over my existing network?

VOIP systems require a point to point cable from the VOIP systems to each user. If you telephone system is of the old daisy chain wiring (i.e. one telephone wired to the next telephone wired to the next telephone) then this will not support a VOIP systems. Also the existing cabling needs to be of good standard and terminated correctly and fully tested. A poor cabling install will result in a very poor VoIP quality call.

Disposal of old data cabling – do you dispose the old cable?

Depending on the project and the feasibility of the current cabling we remove the old cabling as part of the new installation. This cabling is then taken back to be segregated and disposed / recycled as appropriate

Cabling for schools do you provide data cabling for schools and colleges?

Yes and having been a preferred supplier for London Borough of Barnet’s Schools ICT for the past 15 years we have completed in excess of 300 projects within schools

Do I only need 1 cable per person as I will plug my PC into my Phone?

Some phone systems allow you PC to access the internet down the same cable as your phone. However you are then limited to the speed of that phone (i.e. 100MB). Also you are limited in future options. If you choose to pick a different system that requires a dedicated line then you have to install all new cables. Our recommendation is when installing to each desk install a minimum of 2 per user (PC and Phone)

What disruption would data cable installation cause to my company – how long will we be out of action?

If the data cabling installation is new and doesn’t require unplugging your existing infrastructure then we can install without and disruption. TO facilitate this further we can install on weekends or in the evening when the building is empty to minimise disruption.

Can I get the builder to install the cable and you terminate and test?

This is not recommended due to the success of a cabling systems performance is its installation and its termination. Installation requires adherence to limited bend radius of the cables, separation from noise interference, and correct securing and bundling of the cable. This is part of the experience and expertise of the cabling installation contractor.

However in practical terms sometimes the cabling needs to be installed by the builder before the client takes the building. In this scenario we can trace, terminate and test the system but can’t guarantee the results will pass.

What do Data cabling installation test results show?

Test Results show a range of tests depending on the grade of cabling used (Cat5e / Cat6 etc.). These tests for Cat6 include Wire Map, Length, Insertion Loss, NEXT Loss, PS NEXT Loss, ACRF Loss, PS ACRF Loss, Return Loss, Propagation Delay, Delay Skew. These are tests to ensure installation standards have been met, the terminations have been done correctly and that the cable doesn’t have any unnecessary bends, kinks and twists

For a more in depth article on this please view our article Structured Cabling Testing – what you should insist on

Do I need a cabinet, can’t I just plug straight into my equipment?

A cabinet is always recommended even for the smallest installs. Cabling plugged directly into equipment has a tendency to break away at the termination ends as solid cable is not suitable for direct termination. Also a cabinet provides protection for the equipment from theft, breakage, dust and employees. Cabinets also allow all the equipment to be stored together and in a manageable way for moves and changes

Why do I need such a big cabinet?

The cabinet should be large enough to house the current equipment with some space for possible future requirements. I.e. for a VOIP telephone system to be housed. The depth of the cabinet should keep in mind what is to be stored in the cabinet. Some ISP switches and blade servers are extra deep and required a 800/1000mm deep cabinet.

What is Low Smoke Zero Halogen Cable – LSZH/LSOH Cable

The main difference between LSOH cables and conventional cables is that the LSOH variety is designed with a unique thermoplastic jacket. This jacket is designed using a combination of thermoplastic compounds – usually polyolefin-based – which maximise LSOH cables fire retardant quality.
Read more about Low Smoke Zero Halogen Cable – LSZH or LSOH Cable

Why use LSOH (Low Smoke zero Halogen) cable? 

Most network cables are insulated with polyethylene, PVC or thermoplastic polyurethane. In a fire, a chlorine containing plastic material releases hydrogen chloride, a poisonous gas that forms hydrochloric acid when it comes in contact with water. Low smoke zero halogen cable reduces the amount of toxic and corrosive gas emitted during combustion.

Furthermore the regulation now call for a Euroclass cable specification in new installations. These properties exceed the LSOH specification

Additional information of Euroclass cables can be found in our article Do I have to install a Euroclass Compliant data cabling in data cabling installation

Do you charge for an initial survey?

Initial surveys are free as are introductory meetings for design. However visits to explore faults etc. that require an engineer are charged at call out rates

We explain further the different types of surveys we offer here: How much do you charge for a structured cabling survey? Do you offer Free Surveys?

What times are your normal working hours for engineers?

Our normal working day is Monday – Friday between 85, but we can also work before/after these hours if required. In Many cases out of hours working is charged at the same rates depending on requirements, location and hours

Do you charge extra for weekend and evening work?

In many cases we offer weekend working at the same rates as normal hours. This depends on location, requirements and hours. Evenings depend on how many evenings will run in succession

More Data Cabling FAQs?

Just give us a call and we will be happy to answer any data cabling FAQs. In addition take advantage of our free Data Cabling survey. We offer expert advice to clients planning to set up, upgrade or expand data cable installations – just drop us a line or call.

Cabling Terms Glossary

Click here for A summary of commonly used Data Cabling Terminology 

For further articles and Data Cabling FAQs please visit our Knowledge Center HERE

Data Cabling FAQs

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