The Components of Structured Network Cabling Systems

installing-network-rackWhenever you take a look through any of the different cabling catalogs you will see an abundance of various types of components that can be used within structured network cabling systems. You’ll read all sorts of technical jargon that describes their different features and also see strange terms like patch cabling and raceways.

But what do these all fancy terms mean and what part do these different components play when creating structured network systems?


Below we have outlined some of the main components that may be used when designing and installing your next network cabling system.

The Main Sub-Systems of a Cabling System

There are six main sub-systems that are included within a structured cabling system and these include the entrance facility, main equipment room, the telecommunications rooms, individual work-stations along with backbone and horizontal cabling.

The entrance facility is the point where all the outdoor cables from the different service providers connect to the buildings backbone cabling system. The backbone cable then connects these to the equipment room and each of the telecommunication rooms.

The equipment room is the main frame and central distribution centre for the entire building and contains all the different types of equipment to be used such as the power supplies and protection, file servers, data processing equipment, phone systems and LAN equipment.

The backbone cabling connects the equipment room to the telecommunications room on each of the floors of the building and this is usually structured by using a star topology.

The telecommunications rooms contain telecommunication equipment, cable terminations and cross-connects and this is where the horizontal cable comes into play. It has the role of horizontally connecting all the different outlets or workstations on that floor to the main frame.

Both Horizontal Cabling & Backbone cabling can use UTP, STP, Coaxial or Fiber-Optic cable but as Backbone cabling runs between the equipment room and telecommunications rooms on each floor  it needs extra strength and must also meet certain ANSI/TIA/EIA specifications such as specific fire hazard ratings.

network cabling trays white jacket installation southampton

Cable trays are a nice clean look to open ceilings or of course the server rooms.

Cabling Pathways

Cabling pathways are the means used to route, conceal and protect the cable within the building, they are specifically designed to accommodate all types of standard based cabling and there are four main types used:

  • Conduits
  • Cable trays
  • Raceways
  • Fiber Troughs


Conduits are plastic or metal pipes that can be either rigid or flexible and come in a variety of different sizes. An advantage with conduits is that they may already be present within your building structure. Conduits are the most commonly used type of pathway and can be used for both horizontal and backbone cables.

It is important to note that electrical and communication cables should never be installed in the same conduit without a physical barrier between present between them.

Cable trays

Cable trays are typically open wire trays that are designed to support and organise a large number of horizontal cables. As the cables lay flat in the trays they are a great alternative option to conduits, that allows for easy access when it comes to troubleshooting and carrying out any maintenance needed.


Raceways are an aesthetically pleasing type of conduit pathway used for hiding surface mounted cables when they cannot be installed within the walls. They can be made out of plastic, metal or rubber and are often pieced together in a modular fashion.

Fiber- Troughs

Fiber- troughs or fiber-protection systems are a special type of conduits that are specifically designed for the protection needs of fiber-optic cable. As deciding to use fiber-optic cable within your structured cabling system is a long-term investment, it is also well-worth making sure that it is properly protected.

Patch Cables

Along with the standard backbone and horizontal cabling there is another type of cable that is used within a network cabling system and that is patch cables or cords. These are the cables that connect between the horizontal cabling and the different network devices and outlets such as the wall-plate connectors.

Patch cables need to be flexible enough to withstand frequent connecting and reconnecting so are therefore made with stranded conductors, rather than the solid copper that a standard cable consists of. These cables are usually no longer than two metres and also come in a variety of different colours to make them easily distinguishable.

How To Make A Category 6 Patch Cable

Wall Plates

The horizontal cable terminates when it reaches the wall plates and their connectors within the work station area.  Other options to wall plates include surface or floor mounted boxes and both of these as well as wall plates come in an array of different colors so that you can color co-ordinate with your current office color scheme.

Final Thoughts

Above we have mentioned just some of the different types of components that can be used when designing a structured network cabling system.

If you are currently considering getting a new one installed why not give us a call and our trained technicians will be happy to explain all the different components that they recommend for your individual system.