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Data Cabling 101: Everything You Need to Know About Voice, Data, and Structured Cabling

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Sure, your business is focused on growth. But are you really ready for the future?

Getting your business ready for the future means getting your cabling “just right.”

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t understand the key components of voice, data, and structured cabling.

Don’t know your data cabling from your voice cabling? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know!

What Is Data Cabling?

One of the reasons that cabling can be so confusing is the terminology. In fact, plenty of people are using different terms for the same thing!

Some companies refer to it as “data cabling.” Others prefer different terms, including voice cabling, ethernet cabling, and structured cabling. However, all of these terms are actually referring to the same concept.

Basically, you need the right cables installed the right way to facilitate data transfer. These data cables will form the heart of the network that powers your computer systems. And the same cables help to connect wireless devices and telephone systems, security systems with cameras, copiers, and so much more.

In our increasingly digital world, the success of your business rests on how well you can access, transmit, and download data. By getting your cabling set up the right way, you can position your business for success.

Why Is Cabling So Important?

Still not sure why data cabling is so important? In that case, ask yourself this question: what would your office do if someone cut all the wires?

Without the right cables, all of those expensive computer workstations are nothing more than paperweights. And your wireless network is meaningless. All of a sudden, you don’t have a team of workers: you just have confused people sitting at their desks.

Your ability to network is a major foundation of your company’s potential success. In order to maximize that success, you need to pick the right cabling equipment and make sure that everything is properly installed.

Cabling Categories

As you might expect, there are multiple types of cable to choose from. And you need to understand the different cable categories if you wish to find the cable that is best for your business.

Category 5e cables visually look like a twisted pair of wires. These cables are made with high signal integrity, making them a great choice for computer networking and simple voice services.

Category 6 cables are used for certain ethernet connections. Specifically, Cat 6 cables are good for 10Base-T and 100Base-TX ethernet as well as gigabit ethernet connections. These cables help to block out system noise and facilitate cross-talk.

Category 6a is one of the newer and more innovative cabling solutions. It can handle 500 MHz frequencies and is particularly good at dealing with alien cross-talk.

Multi-mode fiber can be particularly useful for smaller businesses. But to determine if your space is small enough to make the best use of this fiber, you should reach out to a cabling specialist.

Single-mode fiber is best if you have a larger business that takes up more space. And getting this fiber is particularly important if you regularly rely on video communication with a remote workforce or other parties that may not be on site.

Customized Solutions

We’re going to review the basics of data cabling installation in a moment. But one thing you need to know is that no “one size fits all” approach works when it comes to cabling for a business.

That’s why it’s important to customize a solution for your particular workforce and your particular workspace. Whether you install it on your own or hire a professional, your employees need the right kind of cables in order to complete the jobs they were hired for.

Choosing the wrong cables or botching the installation means everyone will have to make do with slow connections and failing apps. This seriously hurts your team productivity and can easily kill a new startup before you really get off the ground!

Data Cabling Installation

What does data cable installation look like? Unsurprisingly, it’s fairly complicated!

It all starts with finding the right pathway for your cables. Some of this is pure logistics as you discover what kind of cables can fit into the available space. But be sure to consider aesthetics–cables dangling from a ceiling, for example, will instantly make your workspace look unclean and unkempt.

Next, you need the right tools. This includes the cables, an ethernet crimper, a stud finder, a label marker, a cable tester, RJ-45 plugs, and a pointed handsaw.

You’ll need that saw the cut holes in the right places and mount wall plates for your wires. When the plates are set up, you’ll need to verify the exact length of cables you need in each room. When you’re ready, you can punch the cabling into the jack and patch panels.

Next, you need to test connections and make sure everything is working right. After that, you’ll need to set up the wireless internet and make sure everyone in the office can get a good wireless signal.

Proper Cabling Maintenance

As you can tell, setting up your data cabling isn’t easy. And even once everything is set up, your work isn’t over yet!

You’ll need to perform regular maintenance on your cables. To this end, make sure you properly label the cables (remember that label marker?) and organize cables by color or type. We recommend using some Velcro to help keep everything connected.

You may also want to invest in a cable rack cabinet or other storage solution for your cabling. Don’t go cheap: the quality of your cable rack can affect the quality of your entire cable setup!

Does this all sound like too much, and you and your team would rather focus on your business? Don’t forget that you can hire cable professionals to help with installation, maintenance, and everything in between.

What’s Next?

Now you know the basics of data cabling. But do you know who can help you with all aspects of data cable installation and management?

At Alternative Telecom & Security, we specialize in network, phone, and security systems. To see what we can do for your business, contact us today!

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