Plus, 7 tips to help you keep your network cabling in good shape!

Category 6 network cabling consists of 4 pairs of wires which are twisted in order to reduce interference.

Category 6 network cabling consists of 4 pairs of wires which are twisted in order to reduce interference.

A few weeks ago, one of our technicians was troubleshooting some connectivity issues that a business client was experiencing. Within their office, there were no apparent network issues, but accessing the internet was a different story. After much work and assuming that it was a software problem, he realized that a physical connection was actually at fault. In the end, he fixed the problem and his story gave me an idea for my next blog entry. Read on and learn how some simple considerations now, can save you a lot of headaches (and potential profit loss) later on. Also, at the end of this article, you can ask us any networking questions that you have and our experts will happily answer them.

When you open up your web browser, or have a conversation (using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)), you probably don’t give thought to how the data are transmitted. Nonetheless, you expect that when you pick up your VoIP phone, you’ll be able to dial a number and connect. Likewise, you sit down at your computer and you expect that the internet will work. Your business’ network cabling is the backbone of how you communicate and if it’s “down”, your operations could grind to a halt. As a business, it’s a good idea to take measures that will reduce the probability of unplanned downtime.

Proper installation of network cabling requires specialized knowledge and careful planning, since even the best equipment won’t compensate for poor handling. When network cabling is installed by the book (fyi: one our reference books on Network Cabling approaches 800 pages), then the degree to which they are affected by electromagnetic interference, (EMI) is minimized.

When interference is introduced to network cabling:
a) the efficiency of the network decreases;
b) intermittent problems (such as connecting to printers) can occur;
c) there can be a complete inhibition of data transmission.

At this point, fault diagnosis and repair become necessitated. What a waste of time and money!!

Click the Image for a Larger View

Network cable health
If any of your cables look like those in the first two images, replace them immediately. The blue cable, in the third image, is what a good network patch cable should look like.

If your current network infrastructure / network cabling works fine, as is, then I’d suggest leaving it alone. However, if you are remodeling your office, then now is the time to invest in high quality network cabling and network cabling installation. Independent of your situation, here are some tips that can help you keep your network cabling in good shape.

  1. Keep your cables organized. Cable spaghetti is never a good thing and it’s certainly not “just like what mamma used to make”.
  2. Don’t run cables where they will likely be stepped on or otherwise disturbed frequently.
  3. Avoid placing cables near fluorescent lights, cell phones, fans, or anything else that can draw a lot of electricity.
  4. Don’t bundle data cables up with any power cords. Try to keep some distance between them.
  5. Don’t bend cables sharply or kink them. This will disturb the twisted wires inside the cable. These twists exist to help cancel out interference, and they can’t do their job effectively if they are disturbed.
  6. If you are having new cables run through walls or ceilings, have them professionally installed by technicians who specialize in data cabling.
  7. Hiring an expert to install your data infrastructure/cabling will reduce the chances of network problems down the line. A qualified installer will know things like: how to properly route the cables; which type of cables to use; whether they must be plenum rated or not; the TIA/EIA standards for wiring; then the local, state and national codes which need to be followed.

Bottom Line: When data cables are installed properly, then you won’t be thinking about them. Instead, you’ll be on your VoIP phone, or on the internet and doing business!

If you would like some advice, or have any questions about your own network cabling, you can leave a comment below and we’ll gladly answer them.