Five years ago, end-users may have been willing to wait 10 seconds or so for a video to load. They may have put up with choppy video conferences and jittery Voice over IP (VoIP) calls. Those days are long gone. People demand fast download speeds, high-quality communication tools and instant access to network applications, services and information on any device.

At the same time, more applications and devices are being added to corporate networks every day. Organizations are deploying IP-based video surveillance and security systems, building control systems, audio/visual systems, digital signage and other solutions. This requires an IT infrastructure that provides the bandwidth needed to meet ever-increasing expectations for application performance.

High-quality structured cabling serves as the foundation for these technological advances. Many organizations expect their cabling plants to last almost indefinitely, but increasing bandwidth demands will eventually go beyond what the infrastructure was designed to deliver. If users complain of declining performance, it could be a sign that the cabling plant is in need of an upgrade.

The performance gained by upgrading to newer cable standards can be dramatic. Category 5e cabling has a maximum bandwidth of 100MHz and can support 1Gbps data transmissions over short distances. Category 6 cabling has a maximum bandwidth of 250MHz, and is certified to support 1Gbps data transmissions. Move up to Category 6a and you get maximum bandwidth of 500MHz and 10Gbps data transmissions. While Cat 5e remains an economical choice for residences and certain commercial applications, organizations supporting high-bandwidth applications will need a stronger cabling plant.

If you’re considering a move to higher-speed 25GbE, 40GbE or 100GbE technology, you should consider switching from copper to fiber-optic cabling. Fiber-optic cabling transmits data faster than copper with less signal loss over long distances.

Even if you rely predominantly on wireless connections, a high-performance, wired network will improve the performance of your wireless infrastructure. In fact, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) recommends Cat 6a cabling to ensure adequate data rates and power delivery for 802.11ac wireless access points.

Of course, the type and quality of the physical cabling is only part of the equation. Expert installation is required to ensure that the cabling plant delivers the expected performance and is easy to manage over the long haul. While routers and switches typically have a lifecycle of just four or five years, the cabling plant will last 10 or 15 years or more if it’s properly installed. Organizations should resist the temptation to have their electrical contractor pull network cabling along. Just because the cabling is neat and organized does not mean it meets structured cabling standards.

A certified structured cabling contractor can provide invaluable input during the planning stage, helping to conduct an engineering review, discuss customer requirements, and create a flexible and scalable design. Organizations should look for engineers who are Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) certified and carry the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCCD) designation. Installation should be handled by manufacturer-certified technicians.

Structured cabling provides the foundation that supports modern applications and services that boost productivity, improve customer service and meet the performance demands of both employees and customers. Rahi Systems has a certified and experienced cabling team that can design and install an easy-to-manage cabling system according to your specific business requirements. Let’s discuss how we can build a rock-solid foundation for your organization with structured cabling.

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