Smart Building

5 Ways to Create a Futureproof Network Infrastructure

Ron Tellas

These days, networks are facing a lot of inevitability. In the past, you may have been able to dodge worries about bandwidth or wireless access. But not anymore. There’s no doubt that your network traffic will increase over time due to increasing numbers of users – and the increasing number of devices they’re bringing with them that will connect to your network.

Then there are all the connected devices making their way onto your network from other places, like your building’s lighting systems, wireless access points, security systems and even thermostats.


Because of growing numbers of devices connecting to your networks, you’re also going to notice an increased need for network infrastructure to analyze, transfer and store big data. Most connected devices have embedded sensors that capture and share information across networks. LED lights, for example, can communicate about brightness, lighting coming from other sources and even occupancy levels.


In the coming months and years, networks will also need to support new types of devices. Some of these devices will be upgrades or improved versions of the devices we see now; others will be newer types of devices we’ve never seen connect before, like shoes and, yes, toothbrushes.


To establish a futureproof network that’s ready for more devices, more people and more bandwidth, consider these five factors…


1. Consider Fiber Cable

If your enterprise is deploying lots of high-data IP devices, like video, fiber stands out when compared to copper. Why? Because copper cable requires encoding in order to transfer data, which causes delays commonly referred to as latency. Fiber is the definition of futureproof: Install it, and you won’t have to worry about your AV infrastructure for a long time. It can provide hundreds of times more bandwidth than even the highest-performing copper systems.


Fiber alone is not able to remotely supply power to end devices, but a hybrid cable (one with both fiber and copper conductors) can carry data and power over longer distances.


2. Invest in Category 6A Cable

If a copper cabling solution is what you have in mind, a Category 6A solution will help you set up a futureproof network.


By selecting a high-performance, Category 6A cable, you’ll ensure that your cabling can be used for years so it can remain in place, even as technology continues to change. While supporting higher bandwidth levels, Category 6A is also able to hold up to increased temperatures and safely and successfully carry higher power levels in Power over Ethernet applications (more on this later). 


3. Support Higher Power Levels

As smart buildings start to support more types of connected devices, the ability for cable to transfer not only data but power, too, becomes critical. PoE technology safely and efficiently supplies electricity to network-connected devices in addition to transferring data.


Recently, the newest PoE standard was ratified and approved. IEEE 802.3bt calls for the use of all four pairs of wires to supply two additional power variants: Type 3 (60W) and Type 4 (100W). This means that up to 100W of power can now be delivered through twisted-pair cabling.


With increased power loads, however, comes increases in cable temperature. When cable temperatures rise too high, cables can be pushed beyond their rated temperatures, reducing performance and reliability (and causing potential damage to the cable).


Managing cable temperature rise is important to keep insertion loss low and reduce the likelihood of bit errors. High-performance Category 6A cables – like the ones we mention in #2 above – offer a larger conductor diameter to reduce resistance and keep power waste to a minimum, dissipate less power and have enough insertion loss margin to handle extra heat generated from tightly packed cables.


4. Try the Direct Connect Method

Imagine how much time you could save if IoT devices – such as wireless access points, surveillance cameras and HDBaseT monitors – could be plugged in without the need for an outlet or patch cord.


The direct connect, or modular plug terminated link (MPTL) termination, method allows RJ45 modular plugs to be terminated directly onto horizontal cabling and measured in the field. A single cable connects a device at one end; the other cable end is terminated with a jack in a patch panel in the telecommunications room.


This allows for efficient power delivery with the lowest channel insertion loss. It also gives installers the flexibility to eliminate the need for a jack and cord to connect devices.


5. Deploy Zone Distribution

Originally used in open offices, zone distribution supports rapid deployment and reorganization of connected devices in plenum spaces or raised floors. In these applications, horizontal cables run from telecommunications room patch panels to zone distribution box connections mounted in plenum spaces or raised floors.


Then, from zone distribution boxes, copper or fiber cables run to specific zones or outlets using patch cords to connect. This makes connected devices easier to move, and keeps the majority of network cabling in place while moving these devices.


Are you ready to create a futureproof network that’s ready for whatever technology brings to the table? We can help! Contact our team, and we can answer your questions.