As networking applications and technologies like 5G and 10G Ethernet, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and HDBaseT continue to evolve, the combination is creating a converged network infrastructure inside of commercial office buildings.
In today’s office buildings, cabling is principally responsible for supporting a wide range of applications deployed in the commercial real estate building including Wi-Fi networks, in-building wireless (IBW) solutions, intelligent LED lighting and sensor networks, audio/visual systems, security and access control and building automation systems.
Advantages of Optical Fiber Cabling
A simplified network infrastructure can eliminate the need to maintain a collection of disparate wired and wireless technologies, each requiring its materials, expertise, and management. A single, intelligent network infrastructure that can manage all on-site traffic in the commercial real estate building also reduces installation costs by as much as 50%, and operational expenses over the long term, according to a study by CommScope.
Reducing the number of separate networks helps ensure higher reliability and availability makes it easier and more economical to change or expand the systems as the needs of the building and their occupants evolve.
What kind of cabling should you have in a commercial office building?
To ensure that there is sufficient capacity to move data and connectivity effectively in commercial office buildings two types of cabling are required – vertical or backbone optical fiber cables and horizontal twisted-pair cables. Although similar kinds of cabling can be used in both cases, there are some important distinctions based on their use.
Fiber-based backbone cabling
Backbone cabling, also called vertical cabling, provides interconnection between telecommunication rooms, equipment rooms, and entrance facilities. These backbone cables typically run vertically through the risers of office buildings from floor to floor and link horizontal cable segments to the main server. Fiber optic cable is the most appropriate choice for backbone cabling since it provides the best bandwidth supporting future needs.
The horizontal cabling system extends from the work area’s telecommunications information outlet to the telecommunications room (TR) or telecommunications enclosure (TE). Horizontal cabling is usually installed in a star topology that connects each work area to the telecommunications room. It includes the telecommunications outlet, an optional consolidation point, horizontal cable, mechanical terminations and patch cords (or jumpers) located in the TR or TE.
Both Ethernet cable and fiber optic cable can be used for horizontal cabling. Four-pair 100-ohm unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) Cat6A cable is generally recommended because it has the bandwidth and speed capacity required to support voice and data, in-building wireless solutions for cellular service, access controls both physical and network, security monitoring, building environmental control automation, LED lights, and occupancy and environmental sensors.
Backbone vs. Horizontal Cabling
The main difference between backbone cabling and horizontal cabling is that they cover different areas within an office building. The cables used for backbone cabling have a very different requirement from the horizontal cabling because they typically pass through from floor to floor and must meet fire-rating specifications and be OFNR (Optical Fiber Non-Conductive Riser) rated. If the backbone cable passes through plenum area (spaces in the building used for air return in air conditioning, the cable must be OFNP (Optical Fiber Non-conductive Plenum) rated.
Backbone cables also need to have enough strength to support their weight since they are installed vertically inside of office buildings and unlike horizontal cables must be secured correctly.