1What is structured cabling?
A structured cabling system is a complete system of cabling and associated hardware, which provides a comprehensive networking 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.
2Why is WIRED the best company to work with?
There are a lot of choices and considerations for selecting the right fit for your needs. Factors that should be considered include: The application, environment, desired performance, cost, situation, current conditions, business factors, future expectations, availability, etc. The best way to determine which way to go would be to consult with someone who has a vast range of experience with several manufacturers through actual field use while also understanding your specific needs...considering many factors, not just a favorite brand.
3Is there a Category 7 in the future?
Most cabling-centric folks in the US would say - No, Yes, maybe and I don’t know. For the record, Category 7 was actually developed and marketed by a US based manufacturer. The issue is that it was never adopted by Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). TIA is the leading trade association representing the global information and communications technology (ICT) and dominates cabling and network standards in the US. If Category 7 is not adopted by TIA then it’s not going to get much attention from IEEE, which dominates technical/networking standards. So, for now, the answer is no. It was never a mainstream cabling system. However, Category 7 was adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is known/categorized primarily as Class F and Fa. Stay tuned. We do and are on top of industry insider info.
4Can I write up my own cabling scope of work and simply reference the TIA cabling standards and BICSI and get good results from the low bid contractor?
The short answer is no. Cabling standards and BICSI are key to the process. The issue is there is room for interpretation in the standards and BICSI guidelines depending upon certain real-time factors and conditions. The designers and installers must make their own decisions and judgment calls. And judgment calls can be good or bad depending upon the objective, who you’re dealing with, and what/who’s interests they value most. Most clients will not know where judgment has been used to determine the fate of their cabling system. And therefore, how they can be driven off course exponentially if the wrong ones are made.
5Isn't a category 6 cable, category 6 cable? Like, as long as it’s rated at category 6 then it's good for category 6 performance?
Like at a lot of things in the cabling arena, there is more to it than a simple direct answer. First, yes, a category 6 cable, if it's a major manufacturer, UL listed, & ETL verified to the ANSI/TIA/EIA 568.x-x standard and subsequent category 6 electrical performance criteria, can be considered a category 6 cable. Basically, all cables have minimum electrical performance requirements to meet as established by the standards.
Secondly, and this is where it gets tricky. You have to consider some non-standard details and this true statement: Not all category 6 cables are the same. Want more confusion, consider these terms: min-compliant, 6+, 6e, POE, rated to 500MHz, 550MHz, channel rated and counterfeit. What does it all mean? When you select a category 6 or any category cable its important to understand the installation environment (where the cable will be installed), the performance need (how fast and how well do you want the network to communicate), POE plans (how much power is or will be needed at the endpoint), what type of endpoints are being deployed, cost, and the occupancy term of the space/facility.
Get some advice, do some homework, but you should know that the lowest cost cable that says category 6, or any category for that matter, is most likely barely category 6 and using it will likely compromise your network performance. In most cases, this becomes a pretty expensive problem.
6Can't I just use a cabling manufacturer sales rep and have him/her do my design, spec my products, and send out a bid for the labor/installation? This should save some money and if they don't know cabling then who does?
We can't say that won't work out. However, we do think it's the wrong approach. It’s exactly what they want you to do, but that doesn’t make it right for you. Manufacturers know their product, first and foremost. Wired knows the cabling business first and foremost. Wired is product agnostic. We can select and provide products from any manufacturer. An untouchable benefit is our vast degree of field experience. We know what works in a particular situation and what doesn't. No manufacturer rep is going to tell you what is wrong with their product and why there are better choices. In most cases, they don't even know. But we do. Wired is in the best position to recommend what's right for you and not our wallet.
7The Architect and General Contractor are handing the network cabling for our new building. They told me: ‘they do it all the time’ and ‘it will be fine,’ ‘don’t worry cable is cable.’ Should I be concerned?
Facilities wants to have an Electrical Contractor install my data and voice cabling with the power. They say its going to cost less money and they will follow the industry standards, so we won’t have any problems. Should I trust them to be right?
There are several very logical reasons why both of these equations will very likely be problematic:
- These firms are not in the technology business. They do not know networking. They don’t know where it came from or where it's going. They know nothing about how switches and NIC’s communicate or what a bit error even is. So why would you let them design, install, and support your cabling system? It doesn’t add up. (If you need a new roof and your plumber’s quote is lower than the roofers, are you going to use the plumber? No, of course not.
- Would you let the Architect, GC, or Electrician specify your network switches, servers, wireless? No, of course not. Cabling is a component of technology and of your network. It’s not a utility that’s designed and installed to a single code (NEC), like power.
- Network cabling and structured cabling is designed and installed with the influence of multiple standards, codes, and regulators. A good cabling system derives from several formal resources which are turned into a single final product. There is a vast amount of room for interpretation by the engineers and installers. There isn’t always just one right way that meets code or doesn’t.
8What’s the most challenging thing about the cabling business?
One thing that makes this business unique and challenging, is the fact that we install and build mostly in the construction field, but we train, educate, design and sell in the technology field. We must know networks and technology very well to be a viable resource for our clients but we must also have an extensive safety program. Our folks can be talking about scaffolding one minute and 10G Ethernet the next - pretty dynamic. We’re a design and build firm. We must know both sides of the equation and many times come up with the equation. I mean you just don’t correlate IT folks with building construction but that’s essentially what business we are in. Pretty cool really, but a challenge to manage the talent.