The pace of technological change is relentless and shows no signs of slowing. When it becomes time for a company, no matter how large or small, to upgrade or expand its computer network, data cabling installation is always a key component of the work. Unfortunately it’s also one of the least understood aspects of a company’s IT infrastructure which makes choosing a supplier for the job a tricky prospect.
So what is data cabling installation, why do you need it, what’s involved and how do you choose a supplier? Read on to find out…
What is Data Cabling?
The computers on a network need to send information to each other and, except in the case of wireless networks, they do this via cables. Types of cable will vary according to the different types of applications they are serving. Modern business computer networks often integrate telephone systems so cables need to be able to transmit voice and data signals simultaneously.
Cabling within an office building is often referred to as structured cabling. It comprises ‘vertical’ cabling connecting different floors and ‘horizontal’ cabling connecting devices on the same floor. The cables will terminate at a ‘patch panel’ and ‘network switch’ where the computer network links to the outside world via the public internet, fibre optic cable or dedicated leased phone line. The sockets where each device plugs into the network, often embedded in the office floor, are called ‘network points’.
The main types of cable currently used in structured cabling are:
- Cat5 or Cat5e Cabling: Copper wire cabling which is used for data and voice. Cat5 and the more modern Cat5e are unshielded cables which leaves them prone to interference ‘noise’ from other devices.
- Cat6 or Cat6a Cabling: This cable supercedes Cat5 and has greater noise reduction. Cat6 cable has a reduced maximum length compared to Cat5 cables whereas the improved Cat6a can run for similar lengths to the previous standards.
- Fibre Optic Cabling: These plastic fibre cables transmit information via beams of light and are therefore faster than copper wire cables and don’t suffer from interference. These are most commonly found outdoors connecting office networks to local internet exchanges. However, as costs drop they are becoming more popular within offices due to the superior fidelity and speed they offer.
Data Cabling Installation Companies
Companies who offer data cabling installation are often full IT service companies and they offer a whole host of network related services. These range from consultation and network design through to installing and maintaining your network. Commonly a company with its own in-house IT department will employ a data cabling company just to lay cable and install termination points and patch panels but a small business may outsource the entire network installation and need an IT support contract.
Check whether the suppliers are partnered with reputable brands, that they are well established and that they have testimonials/case studies from previous clients. All this information will be available on their websites.
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