Structured cabling - current specifications & recommendations


Structured cabling (or universal building cabling) creates a future-proof basis for networks regardless of applications, because it enables simple installation of network components and can be flexibly expanded at any time. The structured cabling is based on a generally valid cabling structure that provides sufficient capacity reserves for future requirements. This provides a clear advantage over unstructured cabling, which is tied to specific application scenarios and often produces extremely high costs for technical conversions or extensions.

Aims of structured cabling

Structured cabling therefore aims to support all current and future communication systems and is neutral with regard to the transmission protocol and the end devices. The star-shaped structures create redundancies and increase reliability. The standardized components such as cables and connectors are installed according to a specified installation plan and (as a rule) support all the communication requirements that can be expected in the next 10 to 15 years.

Standards for structured cabling

Over 20 years ago, the first version of the "application-neutral communication cable system" was specified in EN 50173. Despite many initial optimization aspects, the standard has prevailed over the last few years. The usability and acceptance of its first version led to the gradual standardization of IT cabling in buildings without office workstations. Whether data centers or industrial buildings, there is a European or national cabling standard for everything.

Manufacturer-neutral cabling standards have existed since 1995, as globally valid standards (ISO/IEC 11801 plus others), as European standards (EN 50173) and as German standards (DIN/EN 50173), which largely represent a translation of EN 50173 with minor national changes. In addition to the central series of standards EN 50173, there are other important standards, such as EN 50346 in connection with cabling measurements, EN 50288 in connection with the specification of twisted-pair cables or IEC 60603 in connection with the specification of connector technology for twisted-pair.


Structured cabling in data centers

At the beginning of 2016, the first European series of standards for "Data centre facilities and infrastructures" consisting of EN 50600-1, EN 50600-3-1 and EN 50600-2-1 to -2-5 was completed. The series of standards contains the latest definitions for the construction of facilities and infrastructures for data centers. As the focus is on growth and migration of new applications, the standard recommends structured cabling as the best choice for data centers. Requirements and recommendations for cabinets, cable routing systems and cable management have been partially removed from EN-50174-2 and further developed or additionally defined. These specifications serve to sharpen the planner's view of growth and migration and thus avoid chaos in the expansion and reconfiguration of data center cabling. As of availability class 2, the new EN 50600-2-4 standard makes the use of a central patch location in the main distribution frame mandatory. This so-called Cross Connect is connected to all cabinets in the data center and ensures that all cabinets can be connected to each other. A cross connect in the main distribution area can be planned and dimensioned according to the planned growth through a maximum consideration.


Areas of structured cabling

In EN 50173-5 and the globally valid ISO standard (ISO/IEC 11801), cabling is structured on the basis of hierarchy levels. These levels are formed by groups that belong together topologically or administratively. Structured network cabling is based on star-shaped structures on which other topologies such as ring, tree or bus topologies can be easily mapped. The requirements of a modern switched network are optimally supported by the star-shaped cabling.


The individual cabling areas are divided into terrain cabling (primary cabling), building cabling (secondary cabling) and floor cabling (tertiary cabling). Maximum permissible cable lengths and other quality requirements are defined for each cabling area. The terrain cabling connects individual buildings on the campus, the building cabling individual floors within a building and the floor cabling the floor distributors or floor switches with the connection boxes in the different rooms of the floor. The network`s direct interface for the user are the network sockets, which can be installed in different ways. Network sockets on cable ducts, in walls and in bandwidths are common. Similar to copper cables, a standard exists for optical fiber that defines the properties and type of plug connections.


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