It is possible that as part of the activities of the Information Technology area, you are responsible for installing a completely new voice and data network, either in an industrial plant or in a corporate office.

gilberto-acuna

By GILBERTO ACUÑA

During my career as a professional for more than 25 years in the IT field, and especially in the area of technology infrastructure, I’ve had the opportunity to manage a large number of projects of voice and data network installation, wired and wireless, mostly in the beverage industry in Mexico and in the United States too.

This article does not intend to go into greater detail in each of the points mentioned below, but rather is to give a general overview. Later in other articles, we will try to exhaust each of these topics.

These recommendations are in case your company decides to go with the installation with its own personnel and resources. Good planning will mean the success of the project. 

If this is your case, I will allow myself to list the following 10 recommendations for installing a new voice and data network:

  1. Have an updated plan with the exact location of every office and desk
  2. Think what’s the best location for the IT room
  3. Select the location of the IT Network Cabinets
  4. Define the type of network cable to be used
  5. Define the best kind of pipes for voice and data cabling
  6. IT Room Electrical Installation Considerations
  7. Plan the Security Cameras
  8. Also remember about the Telephone System to be used
  9. Define the best location for you Wireless Network
  10. Plan for installing of Voice and Data Needs for every user

My first recommendation, without any doubt, is to get a copy of the approved plans, where the new network will be installed. This from my point of view is very important and it is the base from which this project will start and the most important thing will be to define the location of the IT Room.

A very important point is that the plan has the furniture already drawn in the final location where the workstations will be placed.

This makes a big difference because it is not the best, if you need to plan the installation of the network without knowing at the begining the exact point where each end user will need the service. On the other hand, if you have the updated plans with the location of each office and desk, it helps a lot to have visibility where exactly the cables for each individual are going to be placed, which allows us to plan in a better way the location of the printers, computers and all the rest of the services.

Knowing the exact location for where each employee will be located is very important as it will avoid having to make last minute changes and will mean avoid wasting wiring that is installed unnecessarily.

Now, the most important thing to be considered must be the location of the IT room. This must be the most strategic and well protected place in the facility. One of the most important things that has to be considered is having adequate protection against natural events, such as: fire, extreme heathhurricanes, earthquakes, heavy rain or floods.

This site must be protected against power failures, and must be a safe place that is not easily accessible by unauthorized persons. Same thing, it must have adequate ventilation, such as precision air conditioning that must be in a separate electric circuit from the rest of the installation.

As we said before, the location of the IT room must be in the most strategic place, it must be ensured that the location must:

  • Always stay between 68-71 degrees Farenheit,
  • Have its own independent air conditioning precision system,
  • Humidity between 40% -60%
  • Must be properly secured, with restricted access only to authorized personnel
  • Have a thermometer and a fire extinguisher in place and,
  • It should be placed preferably at the main building.

Another good tip is to choose a place like where the largest amount of the employees will be working, which will mean that the amount of wiring will be reduced.

It is important to know what the potential growth may the company experience in the future, in terms of end users. This will be important to know how many network cabinets must be allocated here.

If we see the IT room, we must plan the proper location of each network cabinet, with enough space to work and full access by the front, each side and behind. You must think about if growth is going to happen, and always plan ahead if you will need like a second or third network cabinets in case they are required.

This IT room must have an separate electric circuit for the servers, and electronic devices within the network cabinets and a regular electric circuit for any other electrical equipment that you want to use

Regarding the categories of cables, you can invest in much more expensive wires but I would think that the 6A wiring is a good option. Even category 5 cable can be used if your budget is tight.

The next decision is whether the cabling should be shielded or not. Unless the conditions are very extreme, I do not consider it necessary to use the shielded cable.

Ethernet Cables Comparison

The first thing is to plan ahead on how the IT room you are going to make the coming of all the wires from each office to the main IT wiring room. If you are going to go from the top, if you are going to go from down, if you are going to use Charo-fil, PVC, or Conduit pipes.

We have to watch that the pipes to be installed will have enough space so that the wiring to be installed reaches no more than 50% of its space.

I recommend using 1/2-inch pipes for no more than 3-4 CAT 6 wires max. For 1-inch pipes, it is the minimum recommended to install up to 6 CAT 6 wires max.

If you need to install more cables, I recommend installing a larger pipe or maybe adding a second pipe instead to have enough room for future needs, and be prepared for any growth.

The next step is to properly plan the location of where to punch each wire on each user’s desk in each faceplate. Having a list of each employee’s resources, like computers, printers, desk phones will be of great help. For meeting rooms, don’t forget about Smart TV’s and conference videoconference devices like Zoom or Google Meet.

Plan one ethernet wire per:

  • computer,
  • printer,
  • access point,

It is important to note that it will also depend on whether the telephone system the company has works with Power Over Ethernet (PoE), which would allow the same cable to be shared for the computer and the telephone.

The electrical panel as mentioned must be separate and must be placed inside the computer room in such a way that no one outside of this place could accidentally turn off any of the computer services.

An electrical expert should be consulted to define the total electrical load to be assigned to the network cabinets to be installed in this location.

It is very important that in the computer room the cabinet is properly anchored to the floor and that there is a grounding system to prevent any electrical shock that may affect electronic equipment.

The next point to consider is surveillance cameras.

In the case of security cameras, you must plan ahead of time what type of camera will be used. Currently there are many options out there of cameras that can get Power over the Network wires, also called Power Over Ethernet or PoE.

There are cameras going from 720p, up to 4 MP, but I would at least recommend having 1080p cameras. It is important to choose wisely:

  • The area that each camera will record,
  • Whether it is for indoors or outdoors,
  • Will have night vision or not
  • And the angle that the camera can handle,
  • As well as whether it has the ability to zoom in or not.

Cameras that use PoE are considered to be a computer and a single network cable should be installed just like for a regular computer.

The same thing happens with cameras than with telephones, which it is important to mention that in many situations the cameras can use the same network cable as the computers and thus we could save an electric wire. 

Planning for the wireless network is of a great importance in the installation of the voice and data network. These days the wireless network is perhaps the most important way of connectivity for a users.

Personal computers, cell phones and any other type of devices are connected mainly through the wireless network, and this is undoubtedly a factor that can help reduce the amount of ethernet cabling that is going to be installed.

It is for this reason that it is very important to choose wisely the best place for a wifi device. The best place to place the antenna, can be as high as possible, attached to a ceiling as long as there is no affectation by environmental heat conditions. 

As a general rule, it should always be good to place the wifi device in the center of the office or industrial warehouse, because most likely it will be able to provide greater coverage from there.

Another important thing to have in mind is that the antenna can be placed where more people are going to be working.

Just one data cable to the wireless antenna should be considered and it is also very important to double check that the device works with the Power Over Internet (POE) system.

That means that we can save electrical wires if the wireless device works with the PoE system. It is important that the switch to be installed in the IT room also has Power Over Ethernet or POE capabilities.

In regards to the telephone system, we need to know if a telephone server (also known as PBX) will be installed in this place or if it will be located in a remote site or the cloud.

If the telephone server will be in remote location, you will need a VPN connection with enough internet bandwidth.

Having an inventory of phones sets and extensions will be very useful to know the wiring required for each office.

As mentioned above, it is important to verify if the phone system works with Power Over Ethernet, which will help reduce the amount of network cabling to install.

Regarding the network and wiring cabinets that will be installed in the computer room, the first thing is to make a diagram of the equipment that will be installed in the cabinets. We recommend starting the diagram from top to bottom.

From top to bottom, we recommend the following order:

  1. At the top, the fiber tray from the Internet Provider, 
  2. Router from the Internet Company
  3. Patch Panel # 1
  4. Cable Organizer # 1
  5. Switches
  6. Servers,
  7. Storage Devices
  8. Any other Network Devices

There are different kinds of network cabinets, so it is a good thing to do, is to draw a diagram and size how many electronic devices may fit in each cabinet.

The network cabinets that goes in the IT room are usually larger than the wiring cabinets that are located in the remote wiring rooms.

Usually, the servers, routers, switches, other devices and wiring, are placed in the main IT room and only wiring and switches in the remote rooms.

It is important to always keep in mind is that, according to the standard, the max distance between both ends, from the switch to the computer, printer or wifi device should not be greater than 330 feet. 

To be on the safe side, we recommend no more than 300 feet from the faceplate to the patch panels, and the extra 30 feet for the jumpers from the wall plate to the computer, and from the patch panel to the switch.

When we get to the end-user computers, usually the cable that goes inside the wall and is placed in a face plate either in a double or a single gang. We must be very careful not to damage this cable that has been installed with great care. 

In this place, the cable must be punched following the standards T568A or T568B. You have to choose what standard will you be using, and then apply this standard to all wires.

Finally, the cable that goes from the faceplate to the computer is called a jumper. As we discussed earlier, the maximum length from the computer to the switch should not exceed 330 feet.

It is at this time that all tests must be completed and those wires that do not pass the test must be redone, it means that they were not installed or punched correctly or thay mabye have  a physical damage, whether it has to be rewired or just punch it again, and tested one more time.

As we can see, this is a project of great importance and we must execute it according to the planning in the best possible way since the wiring that you install will remain in the building forever. It is important to avoid all wiring walking near an electrical installation in order to intuit any type of interference as much as possible.

As we mentioned earlier, this article is not intended to be very detailed, but rather an overview of all the activities involved in a structured voice and data cabling project.

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