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Structured Cabling - A Detailed Tutorial and Even More!

What is Structured Cabling?

Simply put, communication cabling systems are called structured cabling systems. Commercial and residential building communication systems are planned and organized to support different communication systems and user applications, they are all designed to support at least 10 years life cycle.

"Structured Cabling System" is a generic communication wiring scheme that is installed in buildings that is able to support all types of communication systems including: telephone systems, computer LANs, video systems, imaging systems and more. Structured cabling system is also called premises distribution system.

The Purpose of Structured Cabling System

The purpose of standardized cabling systems is to support a multi-product and multi-vendor environment. An organized cabling system costs less to install and maintain over the life the system.

The cable system includes communication cabling, cable pathways, communication ground and bonding system, supporting structures, and building spaces. The structured cabling standard describes all elements of a communication cabling system to install, support, and maintain the system.

Structured Cabling Standards

There are three main cabling standards:

EIA/TIA 568C - This is the American standard
ISO/IEC 11801 - The International standard for structured cabling systems
CENELEC EN 50173 - The European cabling standard

TIA-568-C suite of standards breakdown:

TIA-568-C.0 Generic Telecommunications Cabling for Customer Premises
TIA-568-C.1 Commercial Building Telecommunication Cabling Standards - Part 1 General Requirements
TIA-568-C.2 Balanced Twisted-Pair Telecommunications Cabling and Components Standard (release date: TBA)
TIA-568-C.3 Optical Fiber Cabling Components Standard

Structured Cabling Subsystems

Structured cabling system is based on modular subsystems that are independent yet work together to create a complete building cabling system.

Each subsystem is designed and installed independently of the other subsystems. Then all of the structured cabling systems are interconnected and work together as a single cabling system.

This concept enables growth and flexibility as changes to one subsystem do not affect the other systems.

The subsystems of a structured cabling system are:

1. Work area subsystem
2. Horizontal subsystem
3. Backbone subsystem
4. Telecommunications Room (TR)
5. Equipment Room (ER)
6. Entrance Facility (EF)

Subsystems Detailed Descriptions

1. Work Area Subsystem

The work area is where the horizontal cable terminates at the wall outlet. In the work area, the users and telecommunications equipment connect to the structured cabling infrastructure. The work area includes the following components:

a. Cat5e, Cat 6 copper patch cables, fiber patch cords (jumpers), modular cords, and adapter cables
b. Adapters such as baluns and other devices that modify the signal or impedance of the cable
c. Station equipment such as computers, telephones, fax machines, data terminals

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