Cabling for Best Practices Performance

Dec. 16, 2009
Optimize the infrastructure now

Let's face it. We've all been guilty at one time or another of ignoring the cabling backbone or infrastructure. But now, thanks to convergence and integration, that mindset is shifting.

With everything running on the network, the cabling infrastructure specification decision (as well as power) is more important than ever, because it's this backbone that will prepare the end user and their facility for the future. For the systems integrator who can present the proper solution the end result will be a satisfied customer they can return to with confidence for years to come.
A critical but overlooked aspect of integrated systems is the cabling infrastructure, according to Anixter, Glenview, Ill. In fact the cabling infrastructure is only two percent of the cost of a network while it can cause up to 50 percent of the network problems. Anixter recently announced its ipAssured infrastructure cabling program (see November SD&I), to assist and simplify infrastructure planning. It provides specific and detailed cabling recommendations to support current and future security applications, including video (analog and networked Ethernet/IP); access control; power over Ethernet; industrial automation; and intelligent building systems. Based on technology life cycles of one to five years; five to 10; and 10-plus years, the program exceeds IEEE/TIA performance recommendations.

"The program is designed to help systems integrators and value-added resellers build the correct infrastructure for the end user," said Andy Jimenez, vice president of Technology, Enterprise Cabling Solutions for Anixter. "This allows them to have a more long-term vision of the cabling infrastructure, one that will be able to last a couple generations," he said. "You have to remember that the cabling infrastructure is extremely difficult to replace in existing buildings," he said, "so proper planning today is vital."

Communications Supply Corporation (CSC), Carol Stream, Ill., distributes a full range of network cabling and security infrastructure solutions and services. Recently CSC launched the next logical step to all this convergence in the market-the Faster Than Light (FTL) Server and Storage Solution. Integrators are able to sign-on to the FTL Portal (, answer a few questions about the installation they need to complete and the online system provides a complete bill of materials for an end-to-end IP surveillance system that includes the server, storage, PoE switch, patch panel, UPS, patch cables, cabinet, a slide-away monitor/keyboard/mouse and is preloaded with software ready to go. The FTL Portal is able to provide these bundled surveillance systems by using the Surveillance Performance Index(tm) (SPI), which assesses and analyzes the entire chain of surveillance technology, including the cabling infrastructure, to ensure a surveillance system is 100 percent optimized before anything is even purchased.

"We believe that having the right cabling infrastructure in place is a critical component to consider when you're designing a surveillance system that meets the expectations of the end-user," said Adam Greenblatt, director of Strategic Marketing for CSC. "However, this is only one part of the equation. To truly guarantee optimal performance, you need to look at all system components holistically and consider the fact that each IP surveillance installation is unique. By leveraging the power of the FTL Portal, integrators can create pre-optimized solutions that bundle together everything they need to get the job done - from server, to cable, to camera. Using this new online service takes the guesswork out of designing an IP surveillance system," he said.

Bundling is big: suppliers want to package solutions based on each individual application and are doing just that, taking some of the headache out of the process. Other providers offer direct support as well as white papers, specifications and related materials. Companies like CommScope, NVT, Superior Essex, ADI, ScanSource, Tri-Ed, Ingram Micro and many others are assisting in this area with practical information to get the word out. Organizations such as BICSI are stepping up big to assist with professional installation training and certifications.

SD&I magazine assembled these best practices, resources and tips to use in specifying cable, so take a look at these pages for information to get the job done-the right way the first time out and with an eye to the future.

In the Interim
UTP cable today can be used for analog CCTV with the use of baluns (a type of electrical transformer). With many access control systems the controllers have an embedded processor and are linked via UTP cable. IP video today is using the UTP cable and fiber, with the latter starting to be a key player in installations. Source: Thomas E. Martin RCDD and BICSI certified trainer, TK Training Solutions LLC, Omaha, Neb.

Beware the 100 Meter Rule: Zone Cabling Offsets Distance Limitations
First, reference this PDF chart/document on zone cabling strategies. Using an IP-based infrastructure provides better administration and flexibility to support both IP-enabled video and building automation system (BAS) applications. In this example, a zone wiring architecture allows for extended distance support by effectively extending the reach of IP-based cameras and BAS devices for those instances where these devices are located beyond the 100 meter limit of twisted-pair Ethernet. One of the negative perceptions of IP camera technology is that it is limited to the 100 meter rule of Ethernet because nearly all IP cameras today use copper interfaces. Using zone wiring, distances up to 650 meters (2,132 feet) can be realized using a combination of OM3 multimode fiber and Category 6 copper cabling. Source: Chart courtesy of Anixter,

Tip: Consider the Bend Radius
All cables have a minimum bend radius that must be maintained both during the pulling process and after the cable is installed so as not to damage the cable. -- Information Transport Systems Installation Methods Manual, 5th edition, 2007 BICSI.

Tip: Watch That Pull
Cable is susceptible to damage during pulling. Exceeding the maximum pulling tension of the cable may adversely affect the transmission characteristics of the cable. The minimum bend radius of 4-pair, 24AWG cable should be four times the cable diameter. Physical damage to the cable jacket of insulated conductors must be avoided. Stretching, kinking, excessive spiraling and other forms of cable damage will adversely affect the cable transmission performance. -- Information Transport Systems Installation Methods Manual, 5th edition, 2007 BICSI.

Tip: Pulling Cabling in Open Ceilings
The procedure for cable installation in open ceilings is different from that in conduit. Cables shall be supported according to local code requirements and manufacturer provided instructions. Source: American National Standard NECA/BICSI 568-2006 Standard for Installing Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling published by NECA and jointly developed with BICSI.

Tip: Pulling Horizontal Cabling
Horizontal cable is installed between the telecommunications room and work area outlets. Cable shall not be bent or kinked. Should the cable become damaged, do not attempt to repair, instead replace the entire cable. Source: American National Standard NECA/BICSI 568-2006 Standard for Installing Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling published by NECA and jointly developed with BICSI.

Title: 3 More Tips to Get It Right

  1. Plan for the future
  2. Use a higher gauge cable to handle PoE (i.e. a 24-gauge is Category 5e; 23 is Cat 6. The smaller the gauge number, the larger the cable).
  3. Extend beyond the 100 meter rule with zone cabling

Source: Andy Jimenez, Anixter