The patch cable, whether copper or fiber, serves as both the network’s endpoint and its starting point. Although it is sometimes overlooked, this component is crucial to the network’s performance.
It is frequently mistreated, overworked, or bent excessively. This can lead to cable damage, failure, transmission mistakes, poor network performance, and network outages. The constant need to densify communications closets and patch panels frequently results in improper patch cord management.
How Many Types of Patch Cords Are There?
Although there are many different kinds of patch cords, there are primarily two types:
- UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair)
- STP (Shielded Twisted Pair)
What Are UTP and STP?: Unshielded and Shielded Cables
Shielding is a crucial component of network cabling because, without it, data traveling through the wires is more likely to be tampered with in some way. That might not be an issue for shorter routes or less essential data, but shielding is practically required for significant data, where its sanctity must be ensured, especially when running longer connections.
A UTP cable is made up of numerous twisted pairs of copper wires, each wrapped in an insulator, with a rubberized jacket wrapped over all of the wires. They’re most typically employed in traditional phone line wiring or digital networks that demand shorter connections. Although shielding is used in most recent high-performance Ethernet cable types, UTP cabling is becoming less frequent in computer networking as networks are updated with higher bandwidths in mind.
STP cable shielding is referred to by several different names, most of which begin with a prefix. Certain cables are marketed as unshielded twisted pairs or S/UTP, yet they are always surrounded by a braid shield. The only difference would be a foil shield for F/UTP. As a subclass of STP, you may also purchase FTP cables, which are identified by the fact that their twisted pairs are foil-wrapped.
Choosing the Right Patch Cord
It is essential to understand the precise requirements of the network to which the patch cable will be attached to select the appropriate one.
To make sure the shield has continuity in a copper network, you must know the network’s category (cat6, cat6A, cat7) as well as the shield in the UTP cables.
Similarly, if the network is fiber-based, we additionally want knowledge about the fiber’s class (OM1, OM2, G652D, G657A2, etc.) and its type (single or multimode). Additionally, ensure that the patch cords match the copper or fiber in the installed cable.
Additionally, the patch cable must be as short as feasible while maintaining the bend radius and avoiding stressing the connections. This will ensure that the paths (both vertical and horizontal) remain as clear as possible.
Patch Cord Management
Calculate the number of connections and patch cords required
Correct patch cord management begins with accurate planning of the amount of connections and patch cables required, followed by proper routing of these patch cords in the Rack. One common method for organizing the patch is to divide the rack and align half of the patch wires to the right and the other half to the left. This divides the volume of all patch cables between the two laterals of the rack.
Select an appropriate organizer
The accessories that will help in keeping things arranged are a further crucial concern.
A well-chosen horizontal patch cable organizer can assist in maintaining the connections’ bending radius and prevent stress, while a vertical organizer can handle extra cable, freeing up the front panel for more patch cords.
If you need to connect the patch cables, Velcro ties are the finest option. When a plastic cable tie is necessary, it might be overtight, causing excessive bending that modifies the cable’s structure. Always make sure that each wire can spin freely before tightening these plastic ties (primarily on fiber optic cables).
Don’t forget about standards
Always using material according to the standards (ISO/IEC and ANSI/TIA) will ensure that the installation will maintain a high performance.
Identify patch cords
Another good practice is to identify all patch cords on both ends. This will assist the technician in determining the opposite end of the patch cord.
The Advantages of Effective Patchcord Management
Aside from the overall appearance of the cabinet, there are additional technical advantages to excellent patch cord management:
- Signal interferences (noise): good management will keep the bending radius, avoid stress, and with this, prevent crosstalk and interferences between cables.
- Reduces downtime and facilitates easier maintenance: Easy and risk-free maintenance is possible with a well-organized cabinet.
- The efficiency of cooling: The structured wires will not interfere with the airflow in the cabinet and will help to maintain cooling efficiency.
Price of Patch Cords
Patch cords are cables that are relatively inexpensive compared to other devices. The kind of patch cord you choose to buy will determine the pricing range.
To sum up, patch cords are like the heroes of your network, even though they often go unnoticed. If they’re not managed properly in your Cat 6 Cable System, things can go wrong. You might face cable damage, slow performance, and network downtime. But if you choose the right patch cords, plan well, and keep things organized, you’ll avoid these issues.
Just remember, to follow the rules, identify your cords, and enjoy a smooth network. Patch cords are affordable, but their role is vital in keeping your network running strong.