Data cabling is often taken for granted in commercial premises, but if it isn’t installed properly it can lead to problems. Successful data cable installations start with planning. The system needs to support the way you intend to use the space and allow for changes and expansion in future.

It also needs to take account of the type of application you’ll be running – voice as well as data for example – and needs to be safe and take account of any local regulations dealing with, for example, the separation of power and data cables.

The actual installation needs to take account of safely using cabling routes such as ducting or suspended cable trays. You should allow for a spare capacity of around 20 percent from day one, in order to accommodate changes and expansion in the future. If installing a mix of copper and fibre optic cables, it’s important to put the copper in first as the fibre is more fragile. If using nylon cable ties to create bundles, don’t fasten them too tightly and make sure you don’t leave sharp edges when cutting off the tails.

Identify any points with sharp edges or corners that could damage the data cable during the installation. Cables need to be identified and temporarily tagged as they’re put in, so that they can be properly labelled when the final installation of patch panels and wall sockets takes place.

Where cable is terminated in a cabinet, it’s important to make sure this is properly earthed. This not only ensures safety and guards against interference, but can provide a more reliable signal. If wall boxes and desk outlets have metal faceplates these too need to be earthed. When installing cable into cabinets or patch panels it’s important to ensure no kinks and to keep the bend radius acceptable.

Finally, ensure that you have a drawing of the installation for future reference and make sure this is kept up to date with any modifications.

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