Whether in a small office or large corporate headquarters, most managers and employees rely on infrastructure cabling to stay connected and keep their communications and data secure every day. Despite the vital business function of infrastructure cabling like Cat 5 and its next-generation successor Cat 6, or video, audio and coax cabling, few team members besides the IT professionals and office managers think about cabling with any regularity, which is the way it should be.
However, when changes like upgrades and office relocations need to happen, or worse, when connectivity and transmission problems arise, almost everyone begins to focus on infrastructure cable and its importance, which starts with the crucial first step of design.
From the computers that occupy cubicles to the phone lines that run through conference rooms and even beyond into the wiring to ATM machines, the business world seems to run on infrastructure cabling like Cat 5 and Cat 6 for commercial and industrial projects. Most of the time in the office, cabling issues literally sit out of sight and out of mind, but when the time comes for installation or a new move, it is important to know what is involved. Especially with something as fundamental as cable, mistakes in the beginning can cost a lot of money to fix in the long run. With infrastructure cabling, it pays to get things right at the start. At a minimum, an IT manager or other employee dedicated to the desk should consider the following key issues.
First, know when the company plans to move into a new space or relocate to a new location in order to give the telecommunications provider enough time to set up the TI or phone lines. An annoying but common mistake occurs when a company plans to move into a new space and arranges a date for cable installation, only to learn that the telecommunications company cannot set up the phone lines in time. Make sure the telecommunications service will be operating by the time the cable installation is scheduled.
In addition, IT and office managers need to know how many voice and data “drops”, or runs of cable from start points to end points, will be required. Plan on one drop each for the phone line and computer at every desk and cubicle, and remember to plan for drops for network printers and fax machines.
Also, take note of the type of construction in the office space, namely, whether the ceiling is a hard cap ceiling, as one usually sees in a private home, or a drop ceiling, the latter being easier to run cables through. The type of construction, and how the cable runs through it, also determines whether the installation company will need to use plenum or non-plenum cabling to comply with building codes. Plenum, which is treated with fire retardant, costs a bit more.
Beside the core concerns above, IT and office managers also should consider the certifications of their cable installation company. Once again, few aspects of the office are more important to productivity than cabling, and few problems can cause as much grief when things go wrong. Whichever company is chosen, make sure it specializes in installation, and is operated by licensed professionals who can be held accountability if any works needs to be adjusted or redone. Finally, it goes without saying that for reasons of security and safety, all cable installed should be low voltage and insured.