April 16th, 2019 7:00 am

Getting a new office: When to think about network cabling

When to think about network cabling

We had a client once who was building out a new office space, but hadn’t planned out where their cubicles were going to be. When we came in to do the cabling, they just picked a spot and we ran all the cables.

And then they decided to put the cubicles somewhere totally different. The existing cables weren’t long enough, so we had to run all new cables. This added 20 percent onto the cost of the project and slowed the company down from putting people into the new office by about two weeks.

This time and financial cost could have been avoided if they had planned the office design and cabling at the same time.

That brings me to today’s topic: when to think about network cabling.

During office space design

People most often call in the cabling experts during or after the office space design. We highly recommend making the call BEFORE you design the space. As you are planning out where offices, desks, conference rooms, and all your other equipment is going is exactly when you need to start figuring out your cabling.

For example, it’s easy to put the wall jacks on the wrong side of the wall if you haven’t thought about that with the design. Or, the desks end up being on the opposite side of the room from the wall jacks. As our client discovered, If this happens, you have to incur the cost of rewiring or you have to figure out how to bring cables over to the desk.

Before you sign the lease

The fact is, before you even start looking for a space is really the best time to start thinking about cabling to ensure you find a location that can support your networking needs.

Seeing wall jacks on the walls does not mean the space is configured or ready for you. Often clients see the wall jacks and a patch panel in the network closet and think that everything’s good, so they sign the lease. But in fact, somebody has “demo-ed” the cabling (snipping the cables and leaving them in place, but unusable).  Or the cables are old and do not work properly.

What tends to happen is nobody realizes the cable doesn’t work until it’s time to move in. By then it’s an emergency and the time needed to replace the cables and set everything up delays the move. Bringing in a network cabling expert who will check behind the wall jacks and patch panel when you are looking at the space helps avoid this costly mistake.

What to consider in cabling your new space

Cabling a new space goes beyond putting wall jacks near the desks.

cabling your conference roomConference rooms: Make sure that any designated conference rooms or meeting rooms are wired correctly for voice, and data, and audiovisual. Conference rooms tend to be large, so having wireless access points in the ceiling is important. Putting a screen on the wall for projecting presentations requires a bit of thought, starting at the conference room table and figuring out how to connect devices there to the screen. For the conference room table, you need to consider whether you want to do something called a “core drill,” which is where you literally drill a hole in the floor underneath the conference room desk. You run your cables through the desk and then through the floor (into the office below), and then back up and over to the monitor.

Or you may opt for a Connectrac, which is an under-carpet track that raises the carpet up a little bit. You can run cables in there and it’s less expensive than having to pop a hole on the floor.

You can need to consider cables that go back to the network room so that you can plug in a conference room phone.

Internet: People assume any office will have high-speed internet, but that is not a given. In fact, we’ve seen office buildings that still only have DSL (which is not nearly fast enough to support most office needs today). You need to find out who the local internet service providers are. That way you can forecast how much bandwidth you’ll need at the office and whether your ISP can provide it.

Router, Switches, Etc: Finally, you need to consider where your router(s), switches, patch panel, and cables are going to go. Is the server room accessible and well ventilated? Does it have dedicated power? And what about security? Your security system is part of the network cabling, but as it’s a topic in and of itself, we’ll discuss security cabling needs in another post. For now, know you need to be thinking of that when you look for a new office space.

Not sure where to start? Click here to schedule a consult with the cabling pros as Bailey Systems. We can answer your questions and help make sure you find a space that meets your needs.

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