What is Structured Data Cabling?

Tekhs

Structured Cabling, Data Cabling or even Structured Data Cabling, however it’s phrased is simply a cabling system put in place to provide connectivity between devices across a network.

For example, perhaps you work in a small office with some Dado Trunking across the back wall that you connect your laptop into everyday. The cabling behind that Dado Trunking connecting you to your network is part of a structured cabling system.

 

Do I need or even have a structured cabling system in place?

 

In your business, from factories to warehouses, restaurants to cafes, doctor surgeries to hospitals and offices small or large right up to schools, colleges and universities, chances are that your business needs or has an existing cabling infrastructure. This will be made up of a multitude of different components, patch panels, cable, fibre optics, network cabinets, faceplates and modules to name a few.

Times have changed, businesses need data yesterday, employees will complain of slow WiFi or a data point that doesn’t work, cabling infrastructure typically has a lifespan of 25 years, but as times move on and offices change more rapidly this duration can be greatly reduced.

Category 5 data cable still exists and unfortunately is still in use in a variety of different types of buildings. We’ve personally seen this in places such as car dealerships and doctor’s surgeries, medical centres and government buildings. These locations can see issues like poor network speeds, no matter how fast the internet connection is.

 

What types of cable are there?

 

Copper data cable comes in different classes, being called “Categories” actually comes from America. For ease, we’ll stick to using Categories.

Category 5 has a maximum data rate or speed of 100Mbps over a distance of 100 metres.

Category 5e has a maximum data rate or speed of 1Gbps over a distance of 100 metres.

Category 6 has a maximum data rate or speed of 10Gbps over a distance of 55 metres, or 1Gbps over 100 metres.

Category 6a has a maximum data rate or speed of 10Gbps over a distance of 100 metres, unlike Category 6 however, Category 6a runs at double the frequency of Category 6. With Category 6a capable of 500Mhz and Category 6 at 250Mhz.

For most installations, a minimum of Category 5e should be used, although for added futureproofing, most installations will now be completed in Category 6 cable.

Copper data cable must meet various regulations, one of these regulations are fire regulations. This is called “CPR”, giving cables a CPR Rating means that it has been tested to meet rigorous BS EN 60332-1-2 standards.

A cable with a high level of flammability would be given a rating of Fca. This is a cable likely to combust and can spread fire more than 425mm.

The next level of fire rating is Eca, this a cable likely to combust, however unlike Fca, fire will not spread more than 425mm.

Fire ratings above Eca, fall into the category of B1ca, B2ca, Cca, and Dca. The highest level is Aca, although this is thought to be an impossible CPR rating to achieve due to the construction and materials of different types of data cables.

Dca CPR rated cable, is a cable that is combustible, with a moderate flame spread and a high level of heat generation.

Cca CPR rated cable, is a cable that is combustible, with a moderate flame spread but a moderate level of heat generation.

Moving into the higher levels of CPR ratings on cables, Bca is split into 2, B1ca and B2ca.

B2ca, now a more common level of CPR rating available to be used in data cabling, is a combustible cable, with a low level of flame spread and a low level of heat release to contribute to a fire.

B1ca cables, quite simply have a minimum level of contribution to a fire with Aca cable having no level of contribution to a fire, although thought to be impossible to exist at this level.