What is Structured Cabling?

cable plugged on a patch panel

A structured cabling system is a standardized approach to organizing and installing the cables that are used to provide various communication services in a building or campus environment. The primary purpose of a structured cabling system is to provide a uniform, modular infrastructure that can support a variety of different networking technologies and protocols, including Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and VoIP.

A structured cabling system typically consists of several key components, including:

  1. Cable: The cables used in a structured cabling system are usually made of copper or fiber optic material and are designed to transmit data and communications signals over long distances.
  2. Patch panels: Patch panels are used to organize and manage the cables in a structured cabling system. They allow cables to be easily connected, disconnected, and rearranged as needed.
  3. Rack systems: Rack systems are used to mount and organize networking equipment, such as switches and routers, in a structured cabling system.
  4. Cable management: Cable management refers to the various methods and tools used to organize and protect the cables in a structured cabling system. This includes things like cable ties, cable trays, and cable ladders.

Subsystems of Structured Cabling

When designing the structured cabling of a building, there are six main subsystems that need to be considered:

  1. Horizontal cabling subsystem: This subsystem refers to the cables and infrastructure that connect end-user devices, such as computers and phones, to the main distribution area.
  2. Backbone cabling subsystem: This subsystem refers to the cables and infrastructure that connect the main distribution area to the intermediate distribution area and the entrance facility.
  3. Intermediate distribution subsystem: This subsystem refers to the cables and infrastructure that connect the main distribution area to the intermediate distribution area.
  4. Entrance facility subsystem: This subsystem refers to the cables and infrastructure that connect the building to the service provider’s network.
  5. Telecommunications room subsystem: This subsystem refers to the cables and infrastructure within the telecommunications room, which serves as the central hub for the building’s structured cabling system.
  6. Outside plant subsystem: This subsystem refers to the cables and infrastructure that connect the building to the service provider’s network outside of the building.

Each of these subsystems plays a critical role in the overall performance and reliability of the building’s structured cabling system. It is important to carefully plan and design these subsystems to ensure that they can support the communication needs of the building’s occupants.

Why Should You Use a Structured Cabling System?

There are several reasons why you might want to use a structured cabling system:

  1. Scalability: A structured cabling system is designed to be flexible and scalable, which means that it can easily be expanded or modified as the communication needs of a building or campus change over time.
  2. Performance: A structured cabling system is designed to deliver high-quality communication services, including high-speed data transfer and clear voice communications.
  3. Cost-effectiveness: A structured cabling system can be more cost-effective in the long run because it allows for easy expansion and modification without the need to completely replace the entire cabling infrastructure.
  4. Reliability: A structured cabling system is designed to be highly reliable, with built-in redundancies and fail-safes to ensure that communication services remain available even in the event of a network outage or other problem.
  5. Standardization: A structured cabling system follows a set of standardized guidelines and protocols, which makes it easier for different vendors and technologies to work together and interoperate.

Overall, a structured cabling system can provide a number of benefits for an enterprise, including improved performance, cost-effectiveness, and reliability.


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