Network Cabling Types: Choosing The Right Structured Cabling Infrastructure

Technology is moving at a fast pace. Cabling infrastructure must match your company needs. Choosing the best solution for your business in advance saves time and money. Infrastructure performs rather well for an average of ten (10) years and usually, modest cabling supports up to three (3) generations of active electronic devices.

But, before you select your cable type, you’ll need to take into consideration if your company owns or leases the building. If you own, you’ll want to figure out your primary usage and technology speed requirements. If you’re leasing, you’ll want to determine how long you’re planning to stay or what’s suffice for your company’s signature offerings.

Determining the Right Structure Cabling for Your Company

Do you use a training or conference room that requires predictable fast Internet speed? Perhaps you own an executive office space where technology and infrastructure are paramount.

Or, what if you’re the IT Director for a high volume medical clinic and you need to make IT decisions for the entire organization? You might need security, reliable automatic doorways, medical equipment and/or hospital grade refrigeration that regulates temperature for medicine like insulin or organs that will save lives.

Manufacturing or automotive plants require industrial grade cables where the cable’s outer sheath is rated for extreme environments. This type of heavy-duty cabling must prevent damage from Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and hazard materials.

Whether you’re in the market to install network cabling at a new construction building, at a chemical plantation, or if you need to re-cable an existing workplace, you’ll want to be aware of the various types of network cables available.

Then you need to hire the right type of IT Professionals and you’ll want to budget for ideal cabling infrastructure expenses. Cabling infrastructure typically represents less than 10% of your overall network budget. Installation is difficult and labor intensive to replace. Therefore, you’ll need to know the various types of cable in order to prepare for your business goals and objectives.

Category 5e (Cat5e)

Cable can only allow power and speeds of whatever equipment and Internet type it’s working with. Getting a faster cable won’t change Internet speed if your equipment is set slower either.

Most building cabling is Cat5e, standard in 2001. It has copper cable that uses a new standard; 4-twisted pairs, with all eight (8) contacts. Cat5e reduces noise and signal interference, increasing rated transfer speeds to 350 Mbit/s over 100 meters. An optimized encoding scheme allows up to 50-meter lengths of Cat5e cable to perform at Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) speeds.

If your network needs to be at a greater speed now or in the future, than Cat5e cabling may not be capable of accommodating high speeds. Bandwidth=100 MHz

Both Cat5 and Cat5e cable should be changed out for higher performance business set up.

Category 6 (Cat6)

Cat6 is recommended if you own or plan to stay in the building. If your company uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices (Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone systems, cameras, automatic door access, WIFI) at the building, you’ll want to install a minimum category 6 cable because it can handle the power required for these devices better than Cat5e cabling. Bandwidth=200 MHz

The Cat6 has been around since 2002. It’s predicted that upgrading to Cat6a Ethernet cable will be necessary for quite some time, but if you need higher velocity equipment and extreme video performance—such as for training conference connectivity—it’s worth it to consider all options.

Cat6 cable is highly recommended for Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Audio/Video (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.

Electronic equipment emits electromagnetic signals. When several cables are near one another, these cables can interfere with one another. This interference is referred to as “crosstalk.”

The primary difference between a Cat5 vs Cat6 cable is not only higher speeds but reduced crosstalk. Crosstalk increases errors, among other lost packet issues.

Both cat5e and cat6 have better insertion loss, Near End Crosstalk (NEXT), return loss, and Equal Level Far End Crosstalk (ELFEXT).

Newer versions of category cables (Cat6 and Cat6A cables) reduce the impact of crosstalk through various methods, including twisted cable design and improved shielding. Cat6 improvements offer a higher signal-to-noise ratio, allowing higher reliability for current applications and higher data rates for future applications.

If you have a conference room that requires strong technology, Cat6 cabling is the way to go. Cat6 is replacing HDMI as the A/V transmission standard of the future which is good.

Category 6a (Cat6a)

Cat6a cabling has augmented specification designed to double transmission frequency to 500 MHz. This cable infrastructure supports full 10-Gigabit Ethernet speeds without giving up 100 meters of cable length. The same is true for Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) cables that reduce alien crosstalk.

Most computers are linked at Gigabit Ethernet speeds. IEEE 802.3 (10GBASE-T standard), continues to drive demand for high performance. Reaching 10,000 Mb/s requires a higher category of cable, such as Cat6 or Cat6a.

Cat6 or Cat6a is recommended if you plan to upgrade or move into a new facility within the next 5 to 10 years. Category 6 cable solutions are suffice for transmission quality, provided you don’t need to streamline intricate video applications or large format presentations. Cat6 cables have long been used for network connectivity, but this type of cabling might not be an ideal long-term choice. Instead, as video streaming and wireless communications become more standard business practices, this kind of copper wiring might soon meet bandwidth limitations.

Advanced Network Connections is helping businesses capture new value, power productivity, and fast-track innovation with embracing the latest technologies for businesses throughout New England.  Get ANC to help your business transform your performance with emerging ways to value and allow you to operate with more agility and precision, enhance customer centricity, and empower your workforce.

If you think your business is ready to take the next step in it’s technology for the future – Call today (508-297-2632) to ask for a FREE Site Survey and Estimate to have your network protected 24/7 365 days a year -find out why so many businesses chose Advanced Network Connections to help them be more productive.

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