Network Cabling 101



Network Cabling 101

Dove Communications has servicing Los Angeles and all Southern California since 1992. We only use top quality parts with our top-quality experience and service. We are fully licensed and with over 25 years of structured cabling experience under our utility belts, we get it right the first time!

We know the ins and outs of network-cabling design and installs. We have been sure to keep up to date with all the latest industry standards, technology and have lived the real-world situations. Please review the below information so you can avoid any unnecessary costly headaches.

Copper Cabling 101

When you begin a cabling project for your business or home, it helps to know industry standards and terms to ensure successful project completion. We have been in the industry for over 25 years – we know what we’re talking about!

Below Dove Communications has provided common industry terms used when dealing with copper cabling so you can effectively communicate your needs once the occasion arises.

Common Terms:

The below terms are used when referring to copper cabling. Essentially, the listed terms have the same meaning, so they can often be used interchangeably.

  • Network Cabling
  • Computer Cabling
  • Data Cabling
  • Structured Cabling

Term Definitions

Check our simplified guide to common trade phrases below.

Attenuation: The loss of signal strength in networking cables or connections that is usually measured on decibels (dB) or voltage and can occur due to many factors. An example of this is when a Wi-Fi signal gets substantially weaker the further that the device is from the router.

Backbone Cabling: Cabling that delivers interconnection between telecommunication rooms, entrance facilities, and equipment rooms and is normally installed from floor to floor (also known as inter-building backbone wiring) but can also be installed between IT rooms on the same floor (also known as intra-building cabling).

Balanced Twisted Pair Cabling: Cables that include metallic conductors that are twisted in two pairs. The benefit of twisted pairs in ethernet cables is to minimize crosstalk and signal noise as well as improve the balance between conductors resulting in reductions of outside interference.

Cable Run: The length of installed cable connecting two network components that are not in close proximity to each other.

Cable Drop: one run of cable from a staring point to the end point.

Category Cabling: This refers to the cabling ratings (such as Cat5 and Cat6) assigned to different categories of twisted pairs as based on transmission characteristics and mechanical elements.

  • Cat 3: Maximum 16 MHz frequency, speed at 10 Mbps and 328 ft in length. Often used in telephone, ethernet or computer networking. (Necessary?)
  • Cat 5e: Maximum of 100 MHz frequency, speed at 100 Mbps and 328 ft in length. This category features more strict requirements to reduce both near and far-end cross talk.
  • Cat 6: Maximum of 250 MHz frequency with speeds of 1Gpbs and 328 ft in length
  • Cat 6a: Maximum of 500 MHz frequency, speed at 10 GBps and 328 ft in length. This category is augmented (hence the “a”) with insertion loss specs and alien cross talk (noise from one cable link to another) relief.
  • Cat 7: Maximum of 600 MHz frequency, speed at 10Gbps, 328 ft in length. Not a popular choice due to connector preferences and not approved by some industry associations.
  • Cat 8: Maximum of 2000 MHz, speed at 40 Gpbs. 98 ft in length and is typically used for data center interconnections.

Connectors: These small devises are used to align, attach, and assist with continuity between conductors or optical fibers. Modular jacks are the most common variation of connectors.

Cross Talk: Ever hear another conversation when on the phone? This is called Cross Talk and is due to electromagnetic interference, this occurs when voice signals transfer from one or more twisted pairs to other pairs bundled in the same cable, causing unwanted voice transmissions.

Ethernet Cable: Commonly used ethernet cable used with wired networks that connect devices such as PCs, routers, IP phones, and switches within a local network.

Fireproof: The properties of a building that does not support fire/combustion. (Please note: no material is 100% fireproof.)

Horizontal Cabling: Cabling that extends from a telecommunications room or enclosure out to the individual workstations and/or outlets (also known as WAO). Copper cabling is the most common form of Horizontal Cabling; however, fiber optic cabling can be run in the same way.

Latency: Commonly used to describe a delay. Technically, it is the time for a signal to pass through a device or network.

Low Voltage Cabling: (also known as structured cabling) electrical wiring that requires less current to power infrastructural technologies such as phones, intercoms, access control, internet and more (Typically 120 volts or less.).

Patch Cord: A short cable with connectors on both ends that is used to connect two devices within a network.

Patch Panel: Hardware that has multiple ports and is the interchange that receives all electrical circuits in the network design.

Port: A physical connection point located on a network access device like a switch or patch panel with sockets to receive a network connection.

Plenum Rated Cable: Plenum refers to open spaces above the ceiling or below the floor that are used for air circulation. These areas can be problematic if you have a fire because of high oxygen content and lack of fire barriers. Using non-plenum rated cables (PVC) in these areas can spread the fire to other areas very quickly and spread noxious smoke.

(Important: installation of cabling whose fire rating is not appropriate for the space it occupies is illegal due to the potential of safety hazards, including life-threatening situations. We can address any questions about selecting the right cable based on performance, safety, codes and reliability.)

Riser-Rated Cabling: used in non-plenum space and vertical shafts, rooms or spaces inside a building. PVC cable is the most commonly used cable for these instances.

Switch: A network access device that facilitates the sharing or resources by connecting together all devices allowing devices to talk to each other, regardless of where they are on the premises. Building small business network isn’t possible without a switch.

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