Structured cabling is the design and installation of a cabling system that will support multiple hardware uses to be suitable for today’s needs and those of the future. With a correctly installed system, current and future requirements can be met, and hardware that is added in the future will be supported.

This infrastructure serves a wide range of uses. It provides telephone service or data transmission through a computer network. It should not be device dependent.

Structured cabling falls into the following 6 sub-systems:

  1. Entrance Facilities – the point where the telephone company network ends and connects with the on-premises wiring at the customer premises
  2. Equipment Rooms – host equipment which serves the users inside the building
  3. Telecommunications Rooms – where various telecommunications and data equipment resides, connecting the backbone and horizontal cabling subsystems
  4. Backbone cabling – inter and intra-building cable connections; it carries that signals between the entrance facilities, equipment rooms, and telecommunication rooms
  5. Horizontal cabling – the wiring from the telecommunications rooms to the individual outlets on the floor
  6. Work-Area components – connect end-user equipment to the outlets of the horizontal cabling system

Structured cabling design and installation is governed by a set of standards that specify wiring data centersoffices, and apartment buildings for data or voice communications using various kinds of cable, most commonly category 5e (Cat 5e), category 6 (Cat 6), and fiber optic cabling and modular connectors. These standards define how to lay the cabling in various topologies in order to meet the needs of the customer, typically using a central patch panel (which is normally 19-inch rack-mounted), from where each modular connection can be used as needed. Each outlet is then patched into a network switch (normally also rack-mounted) for network use or into an IP or PBX (private branch exchange) telephone system patch panel.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (USA) issues the ANSI/TIA-568 standards for telecommunications cabling in commercial premises:

  • ANSI/TIA-568.0-D, Generic Telecommunications Cabling for Customer Premises, 2015
  • ANSI/TIA-568.1-D, Commercial Building Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard, 2015
  • ANSI/TIA-568-C.2, Balanced Twisted-Pair Telecommunication Cabling and Components Standard, published 2009
  • ANSI/TIA-568-C.3, Optical Fiber Cabling Components Standard, published 2008, plus errata issued in October, 2008.
  • TIA-569-B (2004; Amd 1 2009) Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces
  • ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A-2002, Administration Standard for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure.

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