The year 2014 was a pivotal moment for the structured cabling industry. That’s when the number of devices on the Internet officially surpassed the number of people on the Internet. In other words, we’re carrying and using more connected devices than ever before. Since then, Internet of Things (IoT) has begun to take over conversations about technology. Digital buildings – which feature a connected infrastructure to bring building systems together via the enterprise network – are moving to the forefront.
With these changes, how can you design your cabling infrastructure – your layer 0 – to support network technology changes? Every structured cabling system is unique, designed to fit a company’s specific needs. Taking the future into account during cabling projects helps maximize your investment while decreasing long-term costs. With correct planning and design, you’ll be ready for future hardware and software upgrades, be able to support increasing numbers of devices joining your network and will be set to accommodate higher-speed Ethernet migrations, such as 40G/100G.
Here, we’ve gathered our best pieces of advice on how to design your layer 0 to support the future of network technology.
1. Abide by Cabling Standards
To provide guidance and best practices for the lifetime of your layer 0, following standards for structured cabling systems allows for the mix of products from different vendors and also helps in future moves, adds and changes:
- TIA , North American standards for things like telecommunications cabling (copper and fiber), bonding and grounding, and intelligent building cabling systems
- ISO/IEC, global standard harmonized with TIA networking standards
- IEEE, which creates Ethernet-based standards for networks and relies on TIA and ISO/IEC layer 0 standards
2. Invest in High-Performance Cables
When your cabling system is designed to be used across multiple generations of hardware, it can remain in place longer while supporting fast and easy hardware upgrades.
Analyze how your business is currently run, as well as any expected business or technology shifts in the years to come. Then match these requirements with the performance characteristics of the cabling systems you’re considering.
Make sure that the category cabling can:
- Support the full 100m distance per channel
- Accommodate a tight bend radius inside wall cavities and other tight spaces
- Support the highest operating temperature rating possible with low DC resistance
- Maintain excellent transmission performance
- Be bundled or tightly packed into trays and pathways without performance issues
Most Category 6A cables offer all of the benefits mentioned above, making Category 6A a solid decision that will support the future of network technology.
3. Find a Reputable Warranty
One of the best ways to ensure that your cabling and connectivity solutions will last is to find products that are backed by extensive and impressive warranties (such as a 25-year warranty).
When layer 0 is properly designed and installed, the structured cabling system will support your short-term and long-term needs. A reliable warranty ensures that this happens. For example, with a 25-year warranty, the installed system should meet or exceed industry standards for 25 years, as well as support future standards and protocols. If this isn’t the case, the manufacturer should address the issue.
4. Take Advantage of Power over Ethernet
Power over Ethernet (PoE) cable carries data and electricity through one Ethernet cable to support a variety of devices (nearly any device that can be connected to the network). No power outlets or adapters are necessary. This provides great flexibility when designing digital buildings and incorporating IP-enabled devices like nurse call systems, digital signage, surveillance cameras and wireless access points – which all continue to pull more power.
As a result, PoE standards are changing to safely and efficiently support these higher power levels, including 100W PoE. IEEE 802.3bt is the newest PoE standard (currently under development). It calls for:
- 4-pair power delivery to improve efficiency and support complex devices that generate more data
- Two power variants: Type 3 (60W) and Type 4 (100W)
When your layer 0 is designed to support the future of network technology, PoE should definitely be part of the design.
5. Plan for Wireless Technology
We don’t have to tell you that wireless is becoming a necessity. (Just don’t forget that wireless technology actually requires more wire, not less.) A new wireless standard, 802.11ax, is set to alleviate the frustration associated with network overuse. It will offer speeds as high as 10G and allow many people to be on one network at the same time while reducing connectivity problems.
Cable infrastructure plays a crucial role in successful wireless network deployment. Your cable and connectivity need to be designed to meet the needs of the devices and people that wirelessly connect to it. Otherwise, you’ll suffer from unplanned downtime, lost productivity and even lost revenue.
6. Support HDBaseT Connectivity
Through one twisted-pair cable, the HDBaseT™ connectivity standard supports uncompressed audio and video, Ethernet, control, USB 2.0 and power up to 100W across distances of up to 100 m (this is also referred to as the “5Play feature set”).
Cables that support Power over HDBaseT (PoH) will be able to deliver 100W over all four pairs in a category cable. By using all four pairs, two power interfaces provide twice the amount of power offered by a two-pair solution. Similar to PoE, PoH also means that no power outlets are needed to connect a device using HDBaseT.
A cabling system that is designed to support the future of network technology will support state-of-the-art technology and applications, as well as growing numbers of devices and users. It will also improve business continuity and uptime so that processes don’t come to a halt.
Lastly, a futureproof cabling infrastructure will reduce long-term operating costs and make moves, adds and changes faster and easier. Want to learn more about how to ensure that your layer can support the future of network technology? We can help!
Ron joined Belden in 2016 to help define the roadmap of technology and applications in the enterprise. Prior to this, he developed cables and connectivity for Panduit and Andrew Corp. Ron Tellas is a SME in RF design and Electromagnetic Propagation and has BSEE from Purdue University, a MSEE from IIT, and a MBA from Purdue University.