Computer Cabling & Networking

What is Structured Cabling?

Structured cabling system or structured wiring refers to all of the cabling and components installed in a logical and organized way. It’s designed to be relatively independent of the type of equipment that uses it.

What Types of Equipment Can Use Structured Cabling?

Structured cabling can provide for your current and future needs for electronic systems.

Installing a wiring system as you build your new home or office is only a fraction of the cost of retrofitting it later. Plan ahead.

Before hanging the first sheet of drywall, consider the electronics you’ll want in your new business or home:

  • Telephone(s)
  • Television
  • Audio-Stereo
  • DVD and or VCR
  • Computers(s)
  • Modem/Internet access
  • Fax machine
  • Cable access
  • Home Theater
  • Satellite dish
  • Security system
  • Home automation
  • Lighting Control

A properly designed structured cabling system will allow you to just plug into what you need, phones, cable, video, audio, computers and other electronics all work with a standard network faceplate, from anywhere in your facility. Things change, advances in technology and changes in your like style or how you want to use technology can be accommodated if you plan correctly.

Why Use Structured Cabling?

  • Consistency – A structured cabling system can use the same cabling system for everything. Do you really want to figure out how to install and troubleshoot the phone cabling, then figure out the ethernet cabling, then figure out the ISDN cabling…? What happens when you revisit this in 6 months to make a change for two-line phones?
  • Long life- Structured cabling is an investment that will last for the long term.
  • Support for multi-vendor equipment- A standards-based structured cabling system will support your applications and hardware even after you change or mix & match vendors. With the proper structured cabling system you will not have to rework the cabling when you upgrade to another vendor or model.
  • Simplify moves/adds/changes – Need to move a computer or TV from one room to another. Add a modem connection to the office. Add a two-line phone, DSL, AND fax to the office. Share files or printers between computers.
  • Simplify troubleshooting – Even cables that were installed correctly can fail — and they do. With a structured wiring system, problems are less likely to down the entire network, easier to isolate, and easier to fix.
  • Support for future applications – Your structured cabling system will support future applications like multimedia, video conferencing, and who knows what else, with little or no upgrade pain

Does Structured Wiring Improve Resale Value?

Homes built today without an upgraded wiring system will not be able to accommodate the demands of new technologies. As such, they will not retain value as strongly as those built with a solid technological infrastructure and, in fact, may not even be considered by a large percentage of future homebuyers. With the rapid growth of new technologies for the home, the ever-changing working environment (telecommuting, home business, etc.), and the revolution in home education and entertainment opportunities, it is predicted that installing structured wiring will potentially increase the resale value of the home.

Components of a Home Wiring System

The wiring infrastructure in most homes has not changed in 50 years and is unable to fully support the technologies that are available to consumers today. However, today’s wiring systems are created to handle today’s technologies and provide the electronic foundation for a “connected home.” This advanced infrastructure is necessary to ensure that your family can be connected to today’s services and prepared for new technologies. An advanced home wiring system is usually comprised of three main components:

  • The service center. This service center is the part where all outside services enter the home, including cable TV, telephone, DSS satellite, Internet, etc. This central hub distributes these services to locations throughout the house in a way similar to how the electrical breaker panel controls electricity flow.
  • High-performance cables. Certain services like digital satellite, high-speed Internet, and digital TV require high performance cables to allow full access throughout the home. Most systems include RG-6 coaxial cable for TV and video, and Category 5 or better twisted-pair cable for telephone and data. Coaxial cable provides maximum protection from interference with your TV picture. Category 5 or better cable provides high-speed access to multiple phone lines without cross-talk. These cables deliver all the performance you need today, while providing the capacity to handle tomorrow’s technology.
  • Outlets. The outlets in each room determine which services are available in that room. Each outlet can be customized to a consumer’s specific needs based on which services are desired in each room (cable, Internet access, telephone, etc.). Without the proper outlets, the high-performance wiring behind the wall is of little value.{/slide}

Structured Wiring vs. Conventional Wiring

Think of wiring as a pipeline for information. Conventional wiring has the data capacity of a squirt gun. By comparison, structured wiring, using Category 5 cables, has the capacity of a fire hose. Structured wiring can transmit more information, faster.

Conventional wiring, which is found in most homes, consists of one or two twisted pairs of wires, and is adequate for basic voice, fax or data communications.

Structured wiring is more advanced wiring. Not only can it handle traditional telephone, fax and data communications, but also sophisticated video and data signals from computers.