How to Choose the Best Structured Cabling System for Your Office
Most business owners don’t know the first thing about how the communications in their office building work. Whereas your connectivity at home is accomplished simply enough by jacking your phone into the wall and having a technician install your DSL or cable modem, the process is far more complex when you need separate phone lines and computer connectivity for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of employees in a single building.
In truth, you’ve probably never even heard of a structured cabling system, much less become acquainted with how one is implemented and managed. So when you have to choose one for your office, you may be at a complete loss as to how to proceed. Luckily, there are plenty of professional services out there prepared to do the job for you. But you need to do some research first if you want to make an informed decision. So here are just a few tips that should help you to choose the best system for your office.
- Consider your needs. The place to start is by knowing what you need for your office setup. It’s easy enough to say that you need every employee to have a phone line and internet access, but the more pertinent information for a company that is going to install your structured cabling system is how many employees you currently have, what kinds of work they’ll be doing (as it translates to bandwidth), whether or not you have plans to grow your operation, and probably the layout of your building, since the hardware for a structured cabling system not only requires storage space (possibly several rooms), but also hubs throughout the building. Providing this basic information can help your service provider to understand exactly what you need from your system.
- Phones and computers. The main components included in any structured cabling system revolve around phones and computers, which are essential to conducting business in this day and age. You’ll have to determine what your usage of these elements will be, though, in order to decide how your system will be laid out. For example, you may want to add VoIP options or video conferencing. These requests could call for different equipment and connections than just the standard phone line or internet connection. So you need to inform your vendor of your expected usage.
- Standards for setup. You don’t necessarily have to understand the international standards for the setup of a structured cabling system. That’s what you hire professionals for. However, you should make an effort to learn the components of your system, or at least have someone on your staff trained for maintenance purposes. For one thing, you may want to color code your cabling system so that when you wander through the stacks you can easily identify phone versus internet cables. And you might also want a numbering system in place so that you can find which cables connect to specific terminals in your building. If you don’t know anything about standards, you might not ask for these features up front.
- Cost and warranty. You’ll no doubt want to comparison shop before you buy, and two factors to consider are the cost of installation and maintenance, as well as the warranty on the components included in your system. Every business has to watch the bottom line, so these aspects of your purchase are definitely a major consideration.
- Leave it to the pros. If you simply don’t have the time to learn the ins and outs of express data network cabling installation, then your best bet is to hand off the decision-making to the pros. The truth is that you can’t be an expert at every facet of your business operation, so it’s not a bad idea to task your in-house IT team with collaborating with the installation team, monitoring their progress, and reporting back to you. And you need to make sure that you turn the process over to someone that you trust to provide for the needs of your company, now and in the future.