Top 10 mistakes when data cabling

By March 19, 2019Pyer

In the early days of data cabling, the people charged with running cable were often people who hadn’t been properly trained in the sometimes tricky ways of network cable.

Electricians and phone techs often got the job handed over to them simply because their own jobs involved running cable. But while telephone cables are quite forgiving, data cabling has some stringent specifications. For clarity sake, we aren’t talking fiber cabling here, but twisted pair cables. The next time you’re installing cable, make sure you stay away from the top 10 mistakes when data cabling:

Mistake 1: Not planning for the future

Let’s assume that currently, your business is running 100 Mbps network connections. Now, you plan on moving to new offices, and will be installing new cabling. You have a choice to make: should you run cable that is merely compatible for what you’re desktops now? Or should you go ahead and install cable that is superior to what your needs are, but will last you several years into the future? You may think that you’re saving money by buying the less expensive cable that fits your current needs; however, the physical installation is actually the largest cost. You’ll actually be saving money by going with the more high-end cable now. This way you’ll know that you’re set for upgrades in equipment in the future.

Mistake 2: Using different cabling for voice and data

There was a time when twisted pair cabling was pretty expensive. Voice only needed cable with a single pair of wires, so to save money, companies would install separate – cheaper – cable for voice, and use the larger part of their budget to install twisted pair cabling for data.

These days, the complete cable install can still pretty expensive, but as mentioned, it’s the physical labor that’s the greatest part of the costs; the cables aren’t that costly. What’s more, now that so many businesses are using VoIP, voice needs in many operations requires data-level cabling. Truth be told, if you have the proper equipment for VoIP, you might be able to make do with your current data cable. Then, you can use the Ethernet switch on your VoIP device and in that way avoid paying to run multiple cables.
Point being, don’t assume that you must use the older category 3 cabling for voice. Match the data cable type if you find you must run separate cable for phones.

Mistake 3: Not using cable management

Cable management is sometimes seen as a luxury; after all, it does raise the cost when you add in the ladder rack, rack-based cable management and other necessary equipment. But the addition of management now will lower costs in the future; after all the initial installation isn’t likely to be the end of all your cabling work, and we’ve already determined that labor is the largest part of cabling costs. At minimum, all cables should be clearly labeled and/or color coded – whatever system works for your operation to identify cables when necessary.

Top 10 Mistakes when data cabling

Mistake 4: Running cable in parallel with electrical cables

The cabling used for data is called “UTP” – unshielded twisted pairs. The low voltage that passes through the cable generates a magnetic field – a critical part of the function. Since the cable is unshielded, when you run it in parallel with electric cabling, it interferes with the magnetic field and as a result your communication will be distorted and noisy. You many have complete breaks in transmissions, or extremely slow transmission rates because of constant interruption.

When you must go near cables carrying electric power, cross them in perpendicular.
A true story: Back towards the end of the 90s, I was investigating a new installation of coaxial cable to determine why it wasn’t working. It ran from one building to another building that was quite nearby. When I got to the site, before I even entered the building I saw that the coaxial cable had been twisted around the power lines over head to carry it from one building to the next! Obviously, the problem wasn’t hard to spot!

Mistake 5: Running cable near “noisy” devices and fixtures

Electrical cables aren’t the only thing that can introduce noise into your data transmissions. Nearby motors, fluorescent bulbs – in fact, anything that sheds electrical or magnetic interference can cause problems with your data. When you plan your network cabling, be sure to create a pathway that stays clear of these sorts of devices.

Mistake 6: Not minding distance limitations… to a point

If you’ve got any cabling experience, you should already be aware that UTP cabling running typical Ethernet (up to 1 Gbps) has a 100 meter limitation. If you’re running cabling for other uses, however, you need to keep the distance limitation of the cabling you’re using in mind. For instance, if you’re installing cabling to run 10 Gbps, you’ll need to use Category 6A cabling (or better) for up to 100 meters distance.

Mistake 7: Not following laws/codes/ordinances

The importance of this can’t be stressed too much. Failure to follow local codes can put your safety personnel into dangerous situations. For instance, most localities prohibit the use of PVC-jacketed cabling in air handling spaces. That’s because PVC creates highly toxic fumes when it burns, creating a very hazardous environment for personnel who may have to enter the area in a fire or other emergency.

Not following your local codes can lead to hefty fines; you’ll most likely also be required to rip out and redo all your cabling – not an inexpensive proposition. The point is, find out what your responsibilities are in regard to local ordinances, and be sure that all contractors are following the codes as well.

Mistake 8: Not testing your cabling infrastructure

After the installation is complete, you need to check every cable to verify that it will be able to do the job it’s intended for. Check each cable length and ascertain that cable specs are matched to the needs of the cable. If you need transmission speeds of 1Gbps, you must confirm that the installed cable supports it.

Top 10 mistakes when data cabling

Mistake 9: Not following standards

Since each cable consists of only eight single wires, why not terminate them at random? As long as you’re consistent, and use the same scheme for all your cables, it shouldn’t matter, right?

Actually, it does matter. That’s why we have cabling standards that take the position and pairing of each wire into consideration. If you stray from the standards, you may very well end up with inefficient data transmission and noise that negatively impacts your network. The standards in this case are EAI/TIA-568-A and B; they mandate the method for termination of data cables.

Mistake 10: Not running a cable when you need one

Every time you add in an Ethernet switch, you’re taking the risk of adding inconstancy into your network – no matter how well designed it may be. Generally, mini-switches get when people just want to add a port or two, so there isn’t often a lot of traffic planning done. However, this can cause problems if the usage of the new ports isn’t taken into consideration. If they’re going to be heavy users of the network, it can create a data jam where you least expect it. So, unless you’ve got a very good reason not to, it’s best to run an extra cable instead. In fact, run two; the cable is cheap, but the labor will be about equal.

Top 10 Mistakes when data cabling

If you need Data cabling installed in Melbourne – Please contact Pyer Communications