Communication and connectivity is a vital asset to any business—and structured cabling is a big part part of your infrastructure.
From VoIP telephones to computers, WiFi systems, printers and more, most of your important systems are interconnected.
What is Structured Cabling?
Structured cabling is the standardised method of installing network infrastructure in a business. ‘Structured’ refers to the fact that that the cabling is organised—made up of lots of smaller elements. Typically, structured cabling connects endpoints (devices such as PCs), to other network infrastructure such as servers and routers, and eventually out to the internet.
Most business environments make use of structured cabling for their communications, as it provides a standardised approach to network management.
Structured cabling is important as it offers a standardised approach to networking. This better facilitates adds, moves and changes to your network—making it future-proof.
Structured cabling installations can be large or small—that’s the beauty of them. Whether you’re in a huge campus, and need cabling across multiple buildings and offices, or a small 2/3 person office, structured cabling is a uniform and efficient system.
Structured cabling predominantly makes use of two cabling standards:
CAT5 & CAT6 are types of copper cabling (often called ethernet cable) that carry your data around your network. Structured cabling typically connects sockets with servers and other equipment, and using CAT5 or CAT6 also allows you to provide power to devices over this cable. This is called POE (power over ethernet).
POE powered devices cut down on the amount of cabling required (and PAT testing), by eliminating the power cables.
Why is Structured Cabling Important?
Structured network cabling is the backbone of any businesses communications. While it’s not the most exciting topic, it is very important, and here’s why…
Network Design & Optimisation
Designing your internal network around structured cabling creates an optimised environment. With professional network design and configuration you add room for expansion and make your network future proof.
Arguably one of the most important aspects of structured cabling is enabling the inter-compatibility of devices on your network. Taking the standardised approach means that printers, VoIP phones, WiFi access points, servers, PCs, switches, routers and more can all communicate with one another.
This is vital in ensuring that your businesses network is inter connected and data can flow freely between devices.
Keeping things up to date
As with any technology, its good to keep cabling and networking infrastructure up to date. Up to date equipment increases your network security, with patches and firewall updates to protect against new and evolving threats.
Cabling and network points can also deteriorate over time, and may need replacing. As a general rule of thumb, your network should be refreshed every 3-5 years with new equipment and cabling to ensure it’s running at optimal efficiency.
Labelling & Standardisation
There is nothing worse than adding new equipment or employees and not having the right cable, or having to trace cabling around an entire building.
Professionally installed structured network cable will have labelled elements, so that it is clear where each cable goes and what is connected to what.
Properly labelled cabling and points also makes adds, moves and changes easier. Adding extra equipment is much quicker when you can patch it in quickly, and if there are ever faults, diagnostics can be done faster and with minimal hassle.
Installing Structured Cabling
Installing structured network cabling is not an easy task. With so many different elements coming together to make up a structured network, having an understanding of what needs to go where is imperative.
Some businesses and offices already have structured cabling, but over time as things move and change, the structured cabling can become disorganised and not so ‘structured’ anymore.
As a general rule of thumb, we would recommend a network refresh and upgrade every 3-5 years (depending on network size and complexity—larger networks may need to be refreshed more regularly).
Refreshing your network allows you to upgrade equipment and ensure everything is protected with firewalls and is using the latest protocols. You may also wish to add additional network points around the office to future-proof your network.
How much does structured cabling cost?
There are a few factors that impact the cost of structured cabling—here are the main ones…
How many network points do you need?
A huge part of structured cabling is network points. Network points are small boxes with an ethernet (RJ45) socket, they’re typically mounted on the wall, desk or floor.
If you’re looking for a quote for structured network cabling, a good starting point is to count up the number of required network points you need.
How complex is the installation?
One of the main cost factors of a structured cabling installation is the complexity. This could be anything from the length of cable runs to the number of points, how tricky it is to run the cables etc.
Installation complexity can be hard to quantify—if you need some assistance to work out what is required for your network, speak to our team.
How large is your premises?
As you might expect, larger venues with longer cabling runs are typically more expensive than smaller venues with shorter runs. The more cable used means the price would be higher.
Another consideration would be over how many floors your premises spans—and wether multiple floors need cables running between them.
Comms/Server room or equipment
Structured cabling is only a small part of your businesses overall infrastructure. Comms rooms/server rooms are also very important. If you have an existing server room, it’s important to consider whether you need additional equipment.
Types of equipment would be POE switches, routers, patch panels or even a larger comms cabinet to accommodate the cabling work. If you’re not sure what equipment you need, speak to our team who can offer guidance and information on what equipment you might need to upgrade.
Do you have any specific requirements?
Every business is different, and chances are you may have some specific requirements for your network. An example would be if you had wall-mounted phones, or door entry systems etc. These little extras might need cabling that can impact the cost of a network installation.
If you’re looking for structured cabling, get in touch with our team today for a free consultation and quotation—matched to your exact specification or requirement.