A structured cabling system is a complete system of cabling and associated hardware, which provides a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure. This infrastructure serves a wide range of uses, such as to provide telephone service or transmit data through a computer network. It should not be device dependent.
We further define a structured cabling system in terms of ownership. The structured cabling system begins at the point where the service provider (SP) terminates. This point is the point of demarcation (demarc) or Network Interface Device (NID).
For example, in a telephone system installation, the SP furnishes one or more service lines (per customer requirements). The SP connects the service lines at the point of demarcation.
Every structured cabling system is unique. This is due to variations in:
The methods we use to complete and maintain cabling installations are relatively standard. The standardization of these installations is necessary because of the need to ensure acceptable system performance from increasingly complex arrangements.
The U.S. cabling industry accepts the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in conjunction with TIA/EIA, as the responsible organization for providing and maintaining standards and practices within the profession. It has published a series of standards to design, install, and maintain cabling installations. These help to ensure a proper cabling installation.
The industry standard term for a network installation that serves a relatively small area (such as a structured cabling installation serving a building) is a local area network (LAN). There are also metropolitan area networks (MANs) and wide area networks (WANs).
Structured cabling installations typically include: entrance facilities; vertical and horizontal backbone pathways; vertical and horizontal backbone cables; horizontal pathways; horizontal cables; work area outlets; equipment rooms; telecommunications closets; cross-connect facilities; multi-user telecommunications outlet assemblies (MUTOA); transition points; and consolidation points.
The ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A standard defines backbone cabling as follows: “The function of the backbone cabling is to provide interconnections between telecommunications closets, equipment rooms, and entrance facilities in the telecommunications cabling system structure. Backbone cabling consists of the backbone cables, intermediate and main cross-connects, mechanical terminations, and patch cords or jumpers used for backbone-to-backbone cross-connection. Backbone cabling also includes cabling between buildings.”
Interbuilding and intrabuilding are two types of backbone cables. Interbuilding backbone cable handles traffic between buildings. Intrabuilding backbone cable handles traffic between closets in a single building.
This standard identifies two levels of backbone cabling. First-level backbone is a cable between a main cross-connect (MC) and intermediate cross-connect (IC) or horizontal cross-connect (HC). Second-level backbone exists between an IC and HC.
Structured cabling design and installation is governed by a set of standards that specify wiring data centers, offices, and apartment buildings for data or voice communications using various kinds of cable, most commonly category 6 (CAT-6)& (CAT6A), and fibre optic cabling and modular connectors. These standards define how to lay the cabling in various topologies in order to meet the needs of the customer, typically using a central patch panel (which is normally 19 inch rack-mounted), from where each modular connection can be used as needed. Each outlet is then patched into a network switch (normally also rack-mounted) for network use or into an IP or PBX (private branch exchange) telephone system patch panel.
Cabling standards demand that all eight conductors in Cat5e/6/6A cable are connected, resisting the temptation to ‘double-up’ or use one cable for both voice and data. IP phone systems, however, can run the telephone and the computer on the same wires.
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