Choosing the Right Cabling Infrastructure for Your Company

As we all know technology does not stand still. Manufacturers of data and VoIP network servers and switches are trying to make their hardware deliver faster transmission speeds with almost every upgrade of their product. So, choosing a good cabling infrastructure in very important. Your cabling and network hardware is the life-blood of your company. The cabling you choose dictates how fast your network can be. You can buy the newest fastest servers and switches but if your cable is only rated for 1GB, then that is how fast your network will be.

Before we get into the different types of cabling you can choose, lets look at some questions I always ask when trying to help my customers choose the right cabling infrastructure for their needs.

Questions to Ask when Choosing Cabling Infrastructure

Do you own or lease your facility?
If you own your building and plan to stay in that facility I would highly recommend installing at least cat6 cabling. If you lease you need to think about how long you are planning to stay. Does your network need to be at a greater speed right now or in the near future than cat5e cabling is capable of?

Does your company intend to use any PoE (power over Ethernet) devices?
If you are going to install any PoE devices such as a VoIP phone system, cameras, door access, WIFI or any other devices then it is recommended to install at a minimum category 6 cable. Cat 6 and higher rated cabling is recommended because it can handle the power required for these devices better than Cat5e cabling. TIA has a new bulletin TSB-184-A to address IEEE 802.3bt (type 4) 100W PoE standards. TSB-184-A may recommend Cat-6A cable to support 100 watt PoE when ratified in 2016.

Do you intend to utilize a training room or conference room?
Another reason to choose Cat6 cabling is that it’s replacing HDMI as the A/V transmission standard of the future

Do you own a manufacturing company?
Some plants may require these cables to be industrial grade. This includes EMI and hazard materials, which may cause damage to the outer sheath of the cable. If you have a freezer where you need to store ice cream or other products at very cold temperatures then you will need a cable where the sheath is rated for that environment.

What does category 6 or 6a do for my network compared to category 5e?
Because of its improved transmission performance and superior immunity from external noise, systems operating over category 6 cabling will have fewer errors vs. category 5e for current applications. This means fewer retransmissions of lost or corrupted data packets under certain conditions, which translates into higher reliability for category 6 networks compared to category 5e networks. These are some obvious benefits to cat6 cabling.

From a future proofing perspective, it is usually better to install the best cabling available. This is because it is so difficult to replace cabling inside walls, in ducts under floors and other difficult places to access. The rationale is that cabling will last at least 10 years and will support at least four to five generations of equipment during that time. If future equipment running at much higher data rates requires better cabling, it will be very expensive to pull out category 5e cabling at a later time to install category 6 cabling. So why not install cat 6 for only about 20 percent over category 5e on an installed basis?

When do I need Fiber Optic cable?
Unlike copper cables, optical fiber cables are made up of hair-line filaments drawn from molten silica glass. There are numerous advantages to optical fiber cables, which come in two basic types, multimode and singlemode. One advantage is that they can be run for much longer distances, are immune to electrical interference and disturbances, and they can take much less space in cable pathways. Another and perhaps the most important advantage are the tremendous bandwidth and transmission speed capabilities of optical fiber, especially for video applications.

Depending on the transmission source technology, multimode fiber is capable of delivering 10 Gigabit Ethernet at 550 meters, and singlemode can deliver 10 Gigabit Ethernet at 40,000 meters.

Do you need a warranty to protect your investment?
All major connectivity manufacturers like Leviton, Panduit, Commscope, Ortronics, Hubbel etc. offer a warranty combined with the cabling manufacturers. These warranties usually range from 10 years to lifetime warranties.

Typically, network cabling represents less than 10% of the overall network budget. The infrastructure is expected to perform for 10+ years and support 2-3 generations of active electronics. Network infrastructure installation is the most difficult and labor intensive part of the network to replace. Choosing the best solution for your needs saves time and money in the long run.

How do I choose a good contractor to install my cabling infrastructure?
A good cabling company should be in business for at least 10 years and have a very good reputation. Taylored Systems is a trusted partner for your cabling needs and has been around for over 30 years.

A good contractor should have BICSI trained technicians and be certified by the connectivity manufactures. You can contact the connectivity manufactures like Leviton, Panduit, Commscope, Ortronics, Hubbel etc. and they can help recommend a good cabling company in your area.

The Main Differences Between Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6e Cabling

These copper cables all utilize 4-twisted pairs except for the fiber optic cable. All major cable manufactures are required to make their cable to minimal standard compliances for each grade.

The general difference between these cables is in the transmission performance, and the available bandwidth from 100 MHz for category 5e to 200 MHz for category 6. This includes 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, allowing higher reliability for current applications and higher data rates for future applications. Bandwidth or throughput precedes data rates just as highways come before traffic. Doubling the bandwidth is like adding twice the number of lanes on a highway.

Category 5e Cabling
By reducing noise and signal interference, Cat5e cabling is capable of increasing rated transfer speeds to 350 Mbit/s over 100 meters. The new standard also required all cables to include four twisted pairs (all eight contacts). An optimized encoding scheme allows up to 50-meter lengths of Category 5e cable to perform at, or near, Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) speeds.

Category 6 Cabling
This cable is highly recommended for PoE and AV applications. The mainstream adoption of Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) required new industry-standard cables capable of transmitting at a higher frequency of 250 MHz. Cat6 cabling uses 23 AWG conductors, , and more pair twists per inch to reduce signal noise and interference. The tighter specifications guarantee that 100-meter runs of Category 6 are capable of 1000 Mbit/s transfer speeds.

Category 6A Category
6A, an augmented specification designed to double transmission frequency to 500 MHz. Cat6A cabling supports full 10-Gigabit Ethernet speeds can be reached without sacrificing the max cable length of 100 meters. This is true for STP (shielded twisted pair) cables as well to reduce alien crosstalk.

So, Cat5e or Cat6 for Your Cabling Infrastructure?

Most computers are currently linked at Gigabit Ethernet speeds and have been for several years. IEEE 802.3, a 10GBASE-T standard, continues to drive demand for higher performance. In order to achieve 10,000 Mb/s, a higher category of cable is required.

I would most likely recommend a least a category 6 rated cable if you are looking to upgrade or move into a new facility to help future proof your company for the next 5 to 10 years. Taylored Systems offers a team of professionals who you can trust to give you proper direction on your company’s cabling infratstructure needs. You can contact a professional through the website, or by phone at 317-776-4000