Structured Cabling System: Types, Subsystems, Standards & Uses

September 16,2022

The world is seeing a rapid increase in technological advancements. Undoubtedly, wireless technology is going places, but wire-based communication and networking must not be overlooked. Structured cabling is fast becoming known in the technological world, taking the industry by surprise. It is like a buzzword noticed by large businesses and households. Along with its subsystems, the structured cabling system better serves large data centers’ complex network requirements. Supported by standards like TIA/EIA-568, this technology is now the top priority of big data and communication centers worldwide. 

What is a Structured Cabling System?

Structured cabling is a telecommunication infrastructure designed in such a way that it supports numerous devices. A structured cabling system is a standardized system that consists of smaller elements called subsystems. The need for this kind of cabling is immensely increasing since it provides flexibility and high performance. Large corporations frequently update their cabling system and hardware, needing a structured cabling system. 

Understanding the Anatomy of Structured Cabling:

The defining feature of a structured cabling system is its organization. The cable is organized symmetrically and is composed of smaller subsystems. There are six subsystems in a structured cabling system, each performing its function in the network. The cabling methodology used in this scenario is called “point-to-point.” Moreover, the cable is supported by standards like TIA/EIA-568, making it the most reliable option for large data centers. 

What Makes a Structured Cabling System?

A structured cabling system comprises three elements: patch panels, switches, and trunks. The entire data infrastructure of the system works on these elements. For all the structured cable subsystems to work properly, the functionality of these elements is mandatory. A brief breakdown of these elements is given here.

  • Patch Panels: Patch panels are located at the central point. Patch panels are used to connect different ports through connecting cables. They can also be connected to switches using cords. Patch panels are used to join one network to the other, with all the connections bundled up. Patch panels maintain structured cabling since they connect different networks in the same room.
  • Switches: A switch is the main source of device connectivity to the connection. A switch is used to receive and transmit data further to computer devices and other Ethernet IP devices. Different devices can be connected through switches to patch panels. A switch is the most important factor in Local Area Networking (LAN)
  • Trunk Cables: A trunk is a cable that unites the number of wires running from one patch panel to another. Trunk cable contributes greatly to the structured cabling system organization—a group of wires ends up in a single line, keeping the numerous wires organized and well-structured. 

Types of Cables Used in the Structured Cabling System:

You would wonder what kinds of cables run into such an organized cabling system. A structured cabling system uses different types of cables, depending on users’ needs. A household may not opt for the same cable as a large data center would. The most commonly used cables are mentioned here.

1. Fiber Optic Cable:

An optical fiber is an assembly that is used to data signals in the shape of light. The cables are highly protected, with minimum to zero chances of data loss. Fiber optic cables provide high-quality services like fast data transmission speed and higher bandwidth.

2. Coaxial Cable:

Unlike the fiber optic cable, a coaxial cable transmits data signals in the form of electric signals. The chances of data burn are low due to improved coating and high efficiency. These cables are mostly used in Telephone connections and Broadband Internet connections. 

3. Twisted Pair Cable:             

Both businesses and households likely use a twisted pair cable. These cables are used to connect a business to a telephone company. Coaxial cables are mainly used in two forms, Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) and Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP).

Subsystems of a Structured Cabling System:

A structured cabling system consists of six subsystems (components). These subsystems work together as a single unit to better serve your data and networking needs. If a single subsystem fails to work, the rest of the unit will fail to work. These components of a structured cabling system are highly adhesive and inter-connected. All these components work together to bring efficiency into your business and data network.

The six components of structured cabling are the following:

  • Entrance Facility
  • Equipment Room
  • Backbone Cabling
  • Telecommunication Room
  • Horizontal Cabling
  • Work Area

Here, we discussed all of these subsystems in the coming lines.

1. Entrance Facility (EF):

The building entrance is the first subsystem where the external cabling connects with the inside communication cabling. As the name proposes, building entrance facilities are where outside communications cabling interfaces with the structure’s internal cabling. For the most part, it comprises the links, network division points, connecting equipment, and protection devices. 

The main part of an entrance facility is the boundary point or demarcation point, usually referred to as the “demarc.” This is the point where the private telecommunication cabling starts, and the ISP company’s connection is cut-off. The company owner is then liable for any cabling on the premises starting thereon.

2. Equipment Room/Telecommunication Closet:

An equipment room is a place inside a structure that houses the media communications cabling framework hardware. This incorporates the terminations and additionally cross-interface for the horizontal cabling framework. There should be at least one wiring storeroom, of which the size is subject to the service place. 

A professional structured cabling company takes great care of this while installing structured cabling at your place. They know if a single subsystem is down, the entire structure will halt. You can better understand these subsystems if a professional company is installing them. 

3. Backbone (Vertical) Cabling:

Next comes the backbone cabling in the line. Also referred to as vertical cabling, it acts as a bridge between telecommunication rooms and entrance facilities. The cabling framework incorporates the backbone links, fundamental cross-connects, and mechanical terminations. The links can run between floors (known as risers) or between structures (interbuilding). 

Backbone cabling consists of the cables that run through the entire infrastructure. It covers the major portion of the whole premises. The backbone cabling itself has two subsystems, which are discussed here.

  • Cabling subsystem – 2: It connects horizontal cross-connects and intermediate cross-connects. 
  • Cabling subsystem – 3: It connects Intermediate cross-connects and the main cross-connects. 

4. Telecommunication Rooms (TR):

A Telecommunications Room (TR) or Telecommunications Enclosure (TE) houses the end focuses for your framework’s backbone cabling and horizontal cabling. It is supported by fiber jumpers or fixed cords, making it strong. Something significant to note about a telecommunication enclosure is that it serves a more modest region than a telecommunication room. There should likewise be one telecommunications room for each floor of a structure. An experienced telecommunication company ensures that the fiber jumpers and the cords are working properly. 

5. Horizontal Cabling:

Horizontal cabling acts as a connecting bridge between telecommunication rooms and outlets or work areas. This sort of cabling is typically introduced when the building is newly constructed. Horizontal cabling generally is an unshielded turned pair link or UTP. Since the cable is sensitive and can create an electromagnetic field, it is installed carefully. 

Installing companies usually take great care of such lines while installing them. The maximum distance permitted between devices is 90 meters. An additional 6 meters consider fix links at the media transmission storage room and work zone. 

However, the consolidated length of these links can’t surpass 10 meters.

6. Work Area:

The work area is said to be a place where the equipment of the end-user lies. Workstations with various devices like personal computers or any Wi-Fi-enabled devices that plug into a divider source are in the work area. Work-area segments connect the end-user to the sources in the cabling subsystem.

Each work area must contain two permanent links (Telecommunication outlets). The work area can cater to multiple users’ needs as a connecting bridge between the outlets and end-users. Multiuser Telecommunications Outlet Assemblies (MUTOAs) fall under the work area subsystem. 

Structured Cabling Standards:

A telecommunication network comprises various technologies and systems that ensure high-end performance and eliminate network downtime. Modern-day networking is incomplete without structured cabling technology as they offer multiple positives to your network.

The two main structured cabling standards are ANSI/TIA-568 and ISO/IEC 11801. Understanding these standards before installing them is essential to ensure you stay on legal grounds while operating your network. Let’s discussed further these structured cabling standards in the coming lines.

1. The ANSI/TIA-568:

The TIA &EIA published the first version of the Commercial Buildings Telecommunications Cabling System under the guidance of the TIA TR-41 Group and other associated subcommittees. The version was called ANSI/TIA/EIA-568, sometimes known as TIA/EIA-568. It was the first standard version of structured cabling published in the 90s.

The Computer Communications Industry and Association (CCIA) proposed the EIA for building a specification. The purpose of this proposal was to encourage the use of structured and standardized cabling systems across different networking centers.

Purposes of ANSI/TIA-568:

The standard was built to define multiple things across the telecommunication industry. Some of the major points are enlisted here.

  • To build a network cabling specification
  • To support more than one vendor application
  • To direct the design of telecom equipment
  • To establish technical and performance guidelines
  • To specify a structured cabling system
  • To define guidelines for structured cabling system installation

Moreover, the ANSI/TIA-568 addresses the following basic things:

  • Subsystems of structured cabling system
  • Recommended topology and distances
  • Networking practices
  • Installation techniques
  • The lifespan of telecom cables

2. The ISO/IEC 11801:

The ISO/IEC is an international standard for structured cabling and networking systems and is followed across the globe. It regulates and standardizes the cabling system, irrespective of the IT infrastructure they are used in. Moreover, you need to know that these standards are strictly reviewed every five years.

Any commercial building should follow the general standard for network cabling and installation. Section 11801 deals with these general standards which cover the following things:

  • Data
  • Voice and video services for cabling
  • Specifications for copper cabling
  • Fiber-optic cabling specifications

Both these standards should be followed while installing the structured cabling network across any data center. These standards incorporate the cable layout and physical installation of the structured cables.

Various Applications of Structured Cabling

Different businesses and data centers can use structured cabling systems to improve performance. Households with cable and internet connections also access the technology. The amount and size of data increase with more technological tools in the arsenal. Structured cabling is used for better performance on several fronts, such as data centers, network cabling, smart buildings, security purposes, DAS system, etc. The most common uses of this cabling system are further discussed here.

1. Large Data Centers:

Since data centers need strong support from the cabling system, structured cabling is at their service. It assists the data canter in managing and sending a large amount of data. Due to its improved structure and functionality, there are no chances of data burn. 

2. Network Cabling:

One can use structured cabling to connect different devices inside a room. Since the Internet of Things (IoT) is taking over, the need for increased connectivity is rising. For better networking, structured cabling is the best option.

3. Security Purposes:

The connectivity of different devices is necessary for the security of your business. Businesses with sensitive data can better utilize structured cabling since it is highly effective. They are used in CCTV system installation and other surveillance equipment like control sensors. 

4. Distributed Antenna Systems:

A distributed antenna system (DAS) is widely used by large businesses to provide Wi-Fi service to employees. The process incorporates mass notifications and large data carriage. A structured cable can better serve the needs of companies using distributed antenna systems. 

Why Hire a Professional Structured Cabling Expert for Cable Installation?

Cable installation is a complex process and must be left to professionals. Expert structured cabling companies’ services are matchless when it comes to successfully installing complex cable types. Contact us now if you need to install a structured cabling system for your business or house. 

Structured Cabling FAQs:

What are some of the main structured cabling standards?

The two main structured cabling standards are ANSI/TIA-568 and ISO/IEC 11801. However, ISO/IEC is the international standard for cabling and is followed across the globe.

What are the components of structured cabling?

The six components of structured cabling are the following:

  • Entrance Facility
  • Equipment Room
  • Backbone Cabling
  • Telecommunication Room
  • Horizontal Cabling
  • Work Area

What is the international standard for structured cabling?

The ISO/IEC is an international standard for structured cabling and networking systems and is followed worldwide.