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Network Cabling Infrastructure

Network Cabling Infrastructure

Having a well installed high quality network cabling infrastructure is of the upmost importance to almost every business and organisation is this modern age. High speed network cabling in Surrey as well as the UK is becoming more in demand as the availability of high speed fibre internet becomes more widespread, even reaching the most rural of areas, it’s never been more important to ensure that your network infrastructure can handle the demands being made. Knowledge is a valuable tool and in this article we’ll look into some of the standards and terminology used in network cabling, to ensure you are well informed about what is required to meet your network cabling needs.

Structured Cabling Specification

Network cabling, also referred to as structured cabling, much like any form of wiring conforms to certain standards that specify how different types of wiring will be used in different environments, whether in an office, a domestic residence or a large organisation. These cabling standards don’t just encompass data cabling, but also include voice communication cabling used by telephones and the like. The most common category of network cabling is category 5 (CAT-5), category 5e (CAT-5e), category 6 (CAT-6), and the increasingly popular fibre optic cabling.

CAT-5 and CAT-5e cabling

Widely used by companies and organisations in computer networks, and commonly referred to as Ethernet cable, CAT-5 cabling is capable of handling frequencies of up to 100 MHZ, meaning it can handle fast Ethernet connections, telephone systems and video, and in the case of CAT-5e (essentially the “e” stands for enhanced) cabling it can handle Gigabit Ethernet (Ethernet that is transmitted at a gigabit per second). CAT-5 cabling can be used unshielded and can run to a maximum length of 100 meters, although this can be extended using hardware such as a repeater or switch, it also has the benefit of being able to carry multiple signals at any given time.

CAT-6 cabling

CAT-6 was implemented as a standard cable to handle Gigabit Ethernet, however it is backwards compatible with CAT-5 and CAT-5e cabling, and as opposed to CAT-5 cabling can handle frequencies of up to 250 MHZ. Like CAT-5 cabling, CAT-6 can be used unshielded and can run to a maximum length of 100 meters without the need for hardware to extend it.

What’s best?

It’s important to be aware that CAT-5e is capable of less interference than CAT-5, and greater speeds due to making better use of the cabling itself. CAT-6 however will outperform CAT-5e, both in terms of performance and interference reduction, however it is not always necessary, and in cases where CAT-5e is already installed, the existing cabling can be sufficient.

Network Cabling Connectors & Wall Sockets

Network SocketAt some point all this cabling needs to be connected to a connector that can then be used by whatever device requires the network connection. There have been different standards of connectors over the years, in the past network cabling used a 4P4C connector that used 4 pins to communicate data, which is no longer suitable for network use, but is still commonly used for telephone handsets as the 4 pins that are divided evenly between receiver and speaker are sufficient. The 6P6C connector increased the pin count to 6 and for some versions allowed for low voltage power to be supplied to networked devices. 8P8C is the type of connector that is commonly used for Ethernet networking, increasing the pin count to 8 and allowing for far more data to be transmitted at once. These are just a small selection of the different connector types available and there are more that have specific tasks, such as adapters that give intruder alarms instant access to a phone line. Each of these different cable types should have a relevant and corresponding wall socket. At present most network cables utilise RJ45 wall sockets.

What does this mean to me?

All of this is very dependent on your needs as a user. For new customers, depending on your size, we would recommend CAT-6 cabling as at present it handles high data speeds excellently with little interference, and is best placed to handle current and foreseeable networking needs. If installed correctly and keeping in mind the limitations listed above, it will provide you with exceptional performance. However for smaller businesses which might not require such a high speed network infrastructure, CAT-5e is acceptable.

Do I Need To Consider Testing & Maintenance?

If you have an old installation of network cabling but are uncertain of what standard of cabling was installed, there are ways to find out what you have. The most obvious option is to look at the cabling itself, which should have text printed on the cable jacket to confirm the standard of cabling. Lektron are also able to offer testing of your network installation that can confirm the standard of network cabling in use by making sure it conforms to some of the standards we have already mentioned above. As with any electrical installation, maintaining your infrastructure is important, and like the services Lektron offer for other installations, we can help you with maintenance of your network cabling and installation too. This can be anything from ensuring that cabling is operating efficiently, ensuring sockets are correctly installed and even expanding a network cabling infrastructure to meet new demands.

Lektron have extensive knowledge on a multitude of wiring standards and our electricians are available if you require advice on what wiring or network cabling would be best for your business. If you have any queries on network cabling or any of the other electrical contractor services that Lektron offer, please either complete our online enquiry form, visit us in Leatherhead or call us on 01372 824214.