26 Jan 2009

FAQs on Data Cabling Dos and Donts

Data cables for your Ethernet network are made with very strict specifications to allow fast data transmission speeds with minimal signal loss or attenuation. The use of incorrect cables will reduce the efficiency and the speed of the network. Attenuation also increases when cables are improperly manipulated and placed within the premises.

If you are going to attempt to install data cabling within your home or office it is important that you know how cables should be correctly installed. This information should also prove useful if you are supervising some hired cabling engineers and need to check if they are doing it correctly.

Intact cables = Intact data

We want to make sure that when we link two devices together, the data that is transmitted from one device to another is kept intact and transmitted rapidly. Attenuation can result from crosstalk, which is the bleeding of electrical signals from the twisted wire pairs. It can also result from electromagnetic interference coming from other electrical wiring or devices. It is important that the cables’ physical characteristics are not altered. This will keep the cables intact longer and reduce signal noise and alteration.

Cable layout considerations

  • DO remember that the most efficient cabling layout for your network is the Star Configuration. All devices should essentially be connected to one central hub. This ensures that if one link goes down, it does not bring down all the other links.
  • DON’T over extend your cables beyond 330ft (100m) between links. If you’re running a cable around your home or office premises, remember that you will have to leave a length of patch cable. Ideally, patch cords are kept at 30ft (8m), so your cable runs should have a maximum length of 300ft (92m).
  • DON’T over-bend your cables. Data cables have a rated minimum bending capacity, which is 4 times the diameter of the cable, or a 1-inch radius gradual bend. More bend than that and the wire will kink and slow down data signals.
  • DO make sure that when you’ve laid out the cables, there are no kinks or crimps from neighbouring structures. These will also cause data slowdown.
  • DON’T tie your cables to existing electrical wiring. Electro magnetic interference (EMI) from the other wiring will cause attenuation of the data signal.
  • DO use appropriate cable supports.


Proper Cable Handling


  • DON’T crimp cables with over-tight staples or plastic ties for attaching them to walls or ceilings.
  • DO use insulated staples and Velcro straps.
  • DON’T pull on cables with too much force or keep them too taut when you lay them out.
  • DO use appropriate cable lubricant if you have to pull them through structures.
  • DO use appropriate connectors for your wiring scheme (568A or 568B). Neither has an advantage over the other.
  • DON’T mix wiring schemes on the same installation.
  • DO keep the wires twisted as close as possible to the termination point.
  • DON’T skin more than 1 inch off the termination point of the cable.

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