Copper Cabling Systems
Twisted-pair ‘balanced’ copper cabling (structured cabling), either unshielded (UTP) or shielded (STP), is the low cost media used as standard for networking a building for all forms of electronic communications to the desktop (for computer, telephone & fax applications).
BP Communications Ltd install, terminate, test & maintain structured cabling for local area networks (LANs) using CAT5e/6 copper cabling technologies. Testing is carried out using a Fluke DSP4300 series Analyser shown, a comprehensive cable testing and certification solution. It has Level III accuracy limits to ensure installations comply to the relevant standards i.e. TIA/EIA-568-B. Test results can be presented as professional, graphical reports depicting measured test parameters or electronically, if preferred.
Telephone Systems / Voice Intergration
In today’s IT and Telecommunications arena, many organisations require the integration of voice and data services over a single medium. To accomplish this, structured cabling (Cat 5e/6) is designed to run both voice and data services. Voice services are connected via the installation of ‘voice tie cables’ between the BT/PBX MDF (Main Distribution Frame) and the structured cabling patching frame. Conversion of RJ45 to BT LJU interfaces at the user location is then achieved using adaptors.
Generic voice cabling (traditional voice cabling to BS6701 standards) can also be provided using multipair cables connected from the MDF to local DP’s (Distribution Points). Individual user outlets are provided in the work area and terminated with the appropriate connector. Although this method is lower in cost, voice grade cabling does not offer the flexibility to be used as an infrastructure for data communication (computer connection).
A variety of high quality cables and accessories can be supplied at competitive rates to provide for a total networking infrastructure solution.
Future Proof Data Cabling Installations
Like computer power and memory, the demand for data transmission capacity and speed has risen exponentially in recent years. Attempting to look ahead and determine with confidence the necessary bandwidth and data rate for the office of the future is becoming more difficult as the pace of changes increases.
The demise of copper in favour of high capacity fibre optic cable has been predicted before, but advanced versions of traditional unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper cable have so far kept pace with today’s information technology. However, building a large network, linking a building to an external data highway or to other buildings, or linking horizontal networks on each floor of a building to a vertical data trunk will almost certainly involve fibre optic cables.
Currently, as network designers we have three choices: Category 5e (enhanced Category 5), Category 6 copper cabling, or fibre optic to the desktop.
Category 5e is a specification designed for data networks that support high speed data transmission, like Gigabit Ethernet, but keeping the signalling frequency to 100MHz. Category 5e has replaced the 100MB Category 5 as the baseline network. If a data rate of 1GB to the desktop covers the user’s foreseeable data needs, Category 5e is an adequate installation standard. If, however, the user anticipates higher data rates, we recommend that they should consider Category 6 or possibly fibre.
Category 6 is a specification for data cabling that supports 1GB data transmission at a frequency of 250MHz. This provides an excellent platform for Gigabit Ethernet with increased margins or “headroom” over Cat 5e, and also caters for future high speed data transmission protocols with even higher data rates.
The ultimate decision on whether to use Category 5e or Category 6 currently depends on the price sensitivity of the installations. Category 5e offers a cost-effective installation for Gigabit Ethernet, whereas Category 6 gives a safety margin but adds cost and complexity to the installation.
With 1GB Ethernet now considered standard technology, there are predictions that 10GB transmission rates will be required as video conferencing and electronic transfer of large files such as CAD drawings become commonplace. With many users aiming for a five-year cycle of upgrades for IT hardware, this would leave any IT manager installing a 1GB system now facing a complete replacement in less than half that time.
It is relatively cheap and causes little disruption to upgrade the vertical part of a building network, but installing new horizontal cabling from the trunk to each desktop is expensive and highly disruptive.
Fibre To Desktop
The proposed Category 7 will involve the use of shielded rather than unshielded twisted pair copper cabling. The switch will help achieve data rates of over 1GB. However, it may be that installing fibre is the only way to future-proof an office currently being fitted with a network.
Proponents of fibre to the desktop point out that, despite the advances in signalling technology that have allowed data rates over copper to rise from 10Mb to 100MB and now to 1GB, there are intrinsic limitations on the capacity of copper cabling. As data rates begin to approach 10GB, the cost of the transmission equipment will begin to rise rapidly and the transmission distances possible fall equally rapidly. If so, multi-mode fibre optic cables could become more cost effective than copper for horizontal networks.
- Customer Premises Cabling ISO/IEC 11801 Class D
- BS EN50173 Information Technology – Generic Cabling Systems
- ANSI EIA/TIA 568-B Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard