A network is the backbone of any modern business, and ensuring its performance is always up to scratch is critical for productivity and morale. When network performance and reliability aren’t where they should be, there are several factors to consider. One of the most overlooked is network cabling, and there are many things that can go wrong in this area.
Lack of planning
Small office networks typically use unstructured cabling, where links are deployed point to point much like they are in a simple home network. While this approach might be adequate for very small networks, the lack of proper planning is a serious hindrance to scalability. As you add new devices to the network, the cabling pathways will quickly become congested, leading to reduced performance and intermittent connectivity.
To stop network expansion from leading to reduced performance and reliability, businesses should instead opt for structured cabling, a standardized approach designed with maximum flexibility in mind. With structured cabling, patch panels are used instead of end-to-end cabling. This makes it possible to easily move, add, and change the infrastructure as your business network grows, all without compromising performance.
Interference due to outdated cabling
Using outdated or incorrect backbone cabling, which is a common problem in unstructured cabling scenarios, can lead to unstable connectivity and reduced performance. The issues are especially severe when using applications that require a consistently low latency, such as internet telephony and video conferencing. Jitter, for example, is a type of interference in VoIP systems caused by using outdated ethernet cables.
Jitter in real-time communications can be a nightmare for productivity and customer service. It often leads to conversations becoming jumbled and mixed around. If your online communications are suffering, and you have poor connectivity, then that’s most likely to blame. Common ways to fix these issues is to switch to Category 6A ethernet cables, which bolster faster data transfer speeds and reduced latencies.
Structured cabling is a lot more complicated to install. If the project isn’t carried out by an accredited team of professionals, you could end up with poor-quality patch cords, which can compromise speed and reliability through signal degradation. Ensuring that your installers are adequately trained is essential for preventing time-consuming performance problems further down the road.
The responsibility to ensure the business has proper network cabling usually falls to the IT department. But even if they have the necessary skills, chances are they are already dealing with many other challenges, such as hardware maintenance, software installations, and information security routines. Structured cabling for modern office networks is a specific discipline in its own right, and it might not be something your internal team is best-suited to addressing.
Troubleshooting network performance issues
While the classic recommendation to reset the router when network connectivity starts playing up still holds true, cabling issues are usually the next most likely culprit. To determine whether your existing cabling infrastructure is up to the task, you’ll first need to find out what sort of network speeds you’re trying to achieve.
When troubleshooting, it’s best to take a hierarchical approach starting with the backbone cabling and then working your way down to the cabling on the office floor. If you find a Category 5e ethernet cable somewhere along the line, yet you’re trying to push speeds of 10 Gbps, then that’s your culprit. When you’re building or upgrading a business network, it’s imperative that your cabling can support the bandwidth and latency rates required.
There’s a lot that goes into network cabling, and it can be an extremely complex process if you don’t have much experience on the subject. If you’re looking to increase your network performance, but don’t know how to do so, call Complete Document Solutions today. We provide network design and installation to help you prepare your company for success now and in the years to come.