Your office cabling system is costly and complicated investment. It's also a commitment to an office design and structure that is not easy to modify. If you add more workstations later, new cabling might be needed.
Most offices have a structured cabling topology that hardwires the cables from wallplate to patch panel. With this system, modifications are less likely because the initial installaiont includes a planning process that should anticipate some expansion. By pre-wiring potential locations in an existing or newly-constructed building, future moves, additions or alterations are avoided. You can just transfer patched cables in the wiring closet. Also, it is critical to number the wallplates to match the corresponding patch panel number. This will make it much easier to relocate a workstation or to troubleshoot a connectivity problem.
There are several sub-systems to consider:
- The Demark refers to the point where the Internet Service Provider's (ISP) data line comes to an end and hooks up with the cabling in the building.
- The equipment room serves as storage for all apparatus and wiring integration points.
- Backbone cabling are high-speed cables (typically Cat6 or fiber) that connect various floors or wall closets.
- The horizontal cabling for links up the network space to individual wallplates. These are done through conduits and ceiling spaces on every level.
- The telecommunications enclosures are wall or floor mounted cages that hold the network equipment; primarily the patch panels ands switches but also sometimes the server and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) too.
Installation and design of structured cabling is regulated by standards that identify the following:
- Network data switches
- Offices layout for voice & data communications for Cat5e or Cat6 cable
- Fiber Optic cables for backbones
- Modular connectors at the wallplate
These components will guide the layout of cables in order to fulfill the data access requirements of your office. All of the cables start at the patch panel on a mounted rack (about 19 inches wide) in the wall closet. From there, they traverse through the drop ceiling and down the walls to individual wallplates. Quite often a wallplate will host 2 or more connections. At the wallplate a short patch cable, usually 7 to 14 feet in length wil connect the computer, phone, printer or other networked device.
All cabling standards require that all of the eight conductors in Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 cables are inter-connected in a precise color-coded pattern. The network cable connects each device but some devices can share a single cable. This is true for VoIP phones. Most VoIP phones have a jack for the network cable and then a jack on the phone for connecting the computer. This pass-thru enables the two devices to share one connection.