Structured Cabling

The 6 Essential Components of a Structured Cabling System

Having a structured cabling system is the most effective approach to organizing your business’s network cabling and equipment. It’s laid out and designed around your current and future needs, and it works so well because it’s made out of smaller parts called “subsystems.” These six smaller subsystems all work together to operate as one infrastructure for your business.

Without one of these subsystems, the structured cabling system wouldn’t work. They all play an integral part in supporting your business network to run at peak performance and efficiency.

The 6 Subsystems of a Structured Cabling System

Entrance Facilities

An entrance facility, in a structured cabling system, marks where the telecom company’s wiring ends and your company’s begins. In entrance facilities, you’ll find cabling, demarcation points, connecting hardware and any other equipment to connect the outside provider’s cabling to the private cabling.

The most important part of an entrance facility is the demarcation point, sometimes shortened to the “demarc.” This is the official point where the circuit from the ISP or telecom company ends and the private cabling system begins. The property’s owner is then responsible for any cabling on the premises from that point on.

Equipment Room

Equipment rooms are any rooms on the premises that house any equipment or consolidation points for the system. You can usually find switches and routers in an equipment room for structured cabling.

Cabling from the entrance facility will run into the equipment room through a patch panel. More cabling can then run from the equipment room to a telecommunications closet. It’s important to secure equipment rooms and any kind of facility that stores telecommunications equipment or network hardware.

Backbone Cabling

Backbone cabling is made up of the actual cables that run throughout the system. It’s usually a twisted-pair cable or a fiber optic cable running throughout the premises. You’ll find backbone cabling running between an equipment room and a telecommunications closet, access provider points and entrance facilities.

There are two kinds of backbone cabling:

  • Backbone cabling between horizontal cross-connects and intermediate cross-connects
  • Cabling between the intermediate cross-connect and the main cross-connect

As the name suggests, this cabling is the “backbone” of the system. It ties all of the separate subsystems together, and the cabling that actually goes into this particular subsystem is regulated by a set of standards called the ANSI/TIA-568.

Telecommunications Room/Enclosure

A telecommunications room (TR) or enclosure (TE) houses the termination points for your system’s backbone cabling and horizontal cabling, including fiber jumpers or patch cords.

One important thing to note about a telecommunication enclosure is that it serves a smaller area than a telecommunication room. There should also be one telecommunications room per floor of a building.

Horizontal Cabling

Horizontal cabling in a structured cabling system connects the telecommunications room or enclosure to outlets or the work areas on the premises. This kind of cabling is usually installed when the building is being initially constructed.

Horizontal cabling is usually an unshielded twisted-pair cable or UTP. Special standards govern how long the cables should be and where the horizontal cabling should be installed to avoid electromagnetic interference. Horizontal cabling is like “last mile” cabling before you reach a computer in a work area.

Work Area

The work area is the actual area where an end-user’s equipment is. Workstations with different equipment like laptops, desktop computers or any Wi-Fi enabled devices that plug into a wall outlet are in the work area. Work-area components are what connect the end-user’s equipment to the outlets in the horizontal cabling subsystem.

Tech support worker at her desk in a work area of an office

Structured Cabling Subsystems: Better Together

All six of these subsystems work together to create one overarching system for your business’s network. Without one of these subsystems, you wouldn’t have a network at all. Having all of these systems in place ensures that the cabling infrastructure supporting your network can do its job and provide ample coverage and connectivity for all your employees. Don’t underestimate the power of organized cabling!

Learn What Else Structured Cabling Can Do