Cabling Made Easy as One, Two, Three
A slow network connection can be attributed to a whole host of issues, but we often forget to look in the most obvious place: cabling. Learn how proper installation and maintenance can save you from endless frustration down the road.
Before installation: Consult with an expert
When in doubt, follow the cabling specifications. Specs identify cable type, distance, installation, and testing details, and understanding the standards and why they’re in place will help you choose the right cabling to fit your needs. Consider consulting an expert who can guide you on everything from not using indoor cable outdoors to avoiding non-plenum cable in a plenum, and can help you plan your installation and avoid common pitfalls. Unfortunately, many people think cabling is too straightforward to require the investment in a contractor. However, proper planning, design, and documentation will ensure the network is capable of carrying high-speed data – today and into the future.
During Installation: Avoid cable damage
When pulling cable, avoid exceeding the recommended amount of pulling pressure. Cables, both fiber and copper, are easily damaged from using too much force. Once inflicted, this type of damage is often very difficult to detect, since the outside of the cable shows no visible sign of distress, so take care to handle according to the specs.
While complications from electromagnetic interference (EMI) might seem like an extraordinary circumstance, most work environments experience low levels of EMI exposure every day, some more than others. Your office microwave, televisions and radios, even some common fluorescent lighting fixtures can emit low levels of EMI. Now consider a hospital filled with X-ray and scanning equipment – the level of potential interference spikes. Close proximity to high or low levels of EMI may increase the risk of communication errors, so be conscious of cable and router placement when establishing your connection.
Kinks and Pinching
These are two of the most common – and probably the most ignored – causes of network issues. While running cables, many installers forget to keep the kinks out. Unrolling cables straight off a spool and watching for twists and kinks as they’re laid into cable trays can save your organization from serious frustration later on. Similarly, overtightening the tie wraps used to gather and organize your cables can be as problematic as rolling heavy equipment over them. And if you can’t easily spot the stretch of cable that is kinked or pinched, it can be almost impossible to identify the connection issues that are sure to arise after installation.
After installation: Certify and test your cable plant
There are some cost effective, easy-to-use cable testers available than can help ensure that each connection is working properly at specific data rates. When you find a bad fiber or copper pair, label it “bad” and move on. For larger installations, this is where a contractor can speed things up.
Maintain these standards for any moves, additions, or changes to your cable plant. Be consistent with the number and labeling scheme for any new additions, and properly terminate any new cabling. Be sure to test your plant so that the high standards you set are maintained throughout the entire facility.
Finally, does your data center have eye appeal? Are cables properly laid into their trays? When you look overhead, or in the back of a cabinet, make sure that the cabling reflects how organized, efficient, and capable the organization has become.
Following these guidelines prior to, during, and after cable installation is the best way to avoid slow network speeds and thwart costly repairs and replacements over time. Protect and test your cables to maintain the best possible network connection, and you’ll be sure to avoid frustration in the future.