When running a complex network, the last thing you want is for it to shut down due to a cabling issue. A low-quality cabling system can have an adverse impact on a company and its bottom line. Fortunately, one effective way to remedy this situation is through structured cabling. If you’re new to the topic, here are the basics of structured cabling and how it compares to other cabling methods. 

What are the Basics of Structured Cabling?

Structured cabling is the telecommunications cabling infrastructure for a building or campus. The network infrastructure generally consists of standardized smaller elements, consisting of a wide array of patch panels and trunks that allow hardware ports to connect. All of these connections lead to an MDA (Main Distribution Area). The MDA is the central aspect of structured cabling. It is the location where operators can make all the MACs (Moves, Adds, and Changes) to the network infrastructure.

With proper design and implementation, a structured cabling system provides a reliable cabling infrastructure with predictable performance and flexibility to make changes whenever necessary. It also maximizes system availability and provides redundancy in case of network failure. Not to mention, it is a long-term solution to your cabling system due to the cables’ usability. 

What is Different About Structured Cabling?

Structured cabling is an organized approach to a company’s cabling infrastructure.  It plays an essential role in addressing the complexities and specificities in a cabling network. As a data transmission and telecommunications system, structured cabling supports data, video, multiple voices, and various management systems, which provides a great deal of usability for companies.

Point-to-Point Cabling

An alternative to structured cabling is point-to-point cabling. There are a few key differences between the two. The most critical is that point-to-point cabling networks do not have an MDA. The cabling system consists of “jumper” fiber cables that connect one switch, storage unit, or server directly to another switch, storage unit, or server. 

How Structured Cabling Compares to Point-to-Point

A point-to-point cabling network is often sufficient for a smaller number of connections. However, as the size of a business, building, or campus increases, a point-to-point network lacks the flexibility needed to make moves, adds, or changes to the central infrastructure. Likewise, point-to-point cabling networks can become quite bulky rather quickly and could even crush or distress cables, block airflow, increase insertion loss, etc. All of these negatively impact network performance and downtime. 

Why Structured Cabling is the Better Option

A few key benefits make structured cabling the better option, especially for businesses with larger networks. For instance, and perhaps most importantly, moves, adds, and changes are much easier to implement. With a point-to-point network, operators must make changes by running long patch cords from equipment racks, which is an incredibly painstaking process. 

Other vital benefits include:

  • More consistent cable design and faster installation, as well as uniform documentation
  • Reduces downtime by drastically decreasing the potential of human error
  • Saves time by making cable and port tracing much easier, which, in turn, helps companies save money
  • A basis for examining and implementing system changes
  • Excellent aesthetics and is much easier to keep clean

Much of the benefits of having a structured cabling network stems from having better organization. Everything is neatly compacted together in a structured network. Everything serves a purpose, which is to optimize your network’s performance. Structured cabling systems can consist of everything from horizontal and vertical backbone pathways, backbone networking cables, horizontal networking cables, horizontal pathways, work areas outlets, telecommunications closets, and more, all of which can be easily implemented and replaced. 

There are many intricacies involved in a structured cabling network. In the next section, we will discuss in greater detail all the critical components in a structured cabling network:

The Subsections in a Structured Cabling System

When trying to visualize a structured cabling system, it generally consists of six subsections. These include:

  • Entrance Facility: The entrance facility generally serves as the network’s demarcation point. It provides the cables, connecting hardware, and protection devices that connect to the on-premise cabling. 
  • Equipment Room: The equipment room is the centralized network location that contains all the housing equipment and wiring consolidation points. It is usually a distinct location in a building or campus. 
  • Telecommunications Room: The telecommunications room houses all telecommunications equipment, cross-connects, cable terminations, and distribution frames. Due to the sensitivity of these items, a telecommunications room should be an enclosed room with security measures in place. Likewise, each building should have at least one telecommunications room. 
  • Work Area: The work area is where components connect end-user equipment to communication outlets. Also known as cable components, work-area components include patch cables, station equipment, and communication outlets. 
  • Backbone Cabling: Also known as vertical cabling, backbone cabling connects an entrance facility, equipment room, and telecommunications room. You can do this type of cabling from floor to floor or even from building to building. Backbone cabling can consist of fiber optic cables, UTP cables, coaxial cables, and STP cables. 
  • Horizontal Cabling: Horizontal cabling is the cabling between telecommunication information outlets and in the work area and the horizontal cross-connectors in the telecommunications room. It contains telecommunication outlets, consolidation points, mechanical terminations, horizontal cables, and patch cords. Horizontal cabling generally runs below the floor or above the ceiling and consists of ethernet or fiber optic cables. 

How Gridd Can Help Elevate Your Cabling Outcomes

A company’s IT network is the backbone of the evolving smart workplace. All of the new enhancements, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, are fueled by data collected over company networks. The insights sensors and other digital assets bring to SSLS (Secure Sockets Layer Security) Servers and other locations provide the life-blood that is elevating, and giving businesses a competitive edge in the marketplace.

The Gridd® Adaptive Cabling Distribution System® by FreeAxez is helping industry leaders accommodate and adapt for the future by implementing the latest technologies. The Gridd patented raised floor solution provides unparalleled visibility through the use of the Gridd® Mobile Augmented Reality app that may be run on a smartphone or tablet. Facilities teams, AV professionals, and IT administrators can quickly check cabling pathways and pinpoint where to open the floor system when rerouting. The application also provides access to product information, attic stock tracking, how to videos, and support on demand without lifting flooring, so management is efficient. The Gridd raised floor system is one of the many ways FreeAxez is helping businesses adapt to growth and advancements in technology.

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