EXPERIENCEHow long has the company been in business? Experience means that they have a higher likelihood of being around in coming years. If you need additional cables installed, or if you have issues with your install, you may need customer support. Your selection should be a company that has a good word of mouth reputation in the field. Does your company have a large client list of prior installs? Are any of the clients major institutions or corporations? Have any former clients thought enough of the work to write testimonials? The answers to these questions should give you a look at the level of trust the company has from your peers.
CUSTOMER SUPPORTPremium quality customer support is essential. Your network is an important facet of your business and you need responsive customer support.
TRAINING AND CERTIFICATIONSCompletion of industry recognized training programs and certifications of expertise in an appropriate regimen within the cabling industry are useful for gauging a company’s competence and commitment to its craft.
QUALITY OF THE PRODUCTSMany people look at the components of a cable network as commodities, and they base their purchase decisions on price alone. There are many grades of cable, jacks and other components within your network. Do your research and find the brands that are most respected in the industry. Let us use cars as an example: A Chevrolet and a Mercedes Benz both serve the same purpose and function the same. The Mercedes Benz does it better and lasts longer, but the price is higher.
COMPETITIVE PRICINGWhen you are comparing one company’s quote to another’s, be very careful to ensure that both companies are providing the same services. Make sure that you have a description of services to be provided and parts supplied. Are these parts comparable in quality, or is one a cheap off brand? If the parts are comparable and pricing is similar, then choose the company that you feel most comfortable with based on knowledge base, customer service and client recommendations. Don’t hesitate to ask your preferred company to negotiate pricing to meet a certain price range presented by the competition.
NOT PLANNING FOR THE FUTUREAre you going to install network cable in your new facility that merely gets the job done for now, or will you make it viable for years to come? Remember, labor is the most expensive part of a network cable installation. Install the best available cable, within your budget, to avoid an expensive re-cable and to keep pace with ever faster technologies down the road.
NOT USING CABLE MANAGEMENTAdding cable management is often viewed as an expensive luxury. Installing overhead and rack based cable management systems does add cost, however, it also makes ongoing maintenance and expansion much easier. Keep in mind, cabling never stops with the initial install. More cables will be added, and changes will be made. Make sure you standardize your cable colors and have a uniform numbering and labelling scheme from the start. This will make it easier to identify cables in the future.
NOT FOLLOWING INSTALLATION STANDARDSUTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) Cable generates a magnetic field when low voltage is passed through it. When the unshielded cable is run parallel with electrical cables or run near “noisy” devices (such as fluorescent lighting fixtures or electric motors), this magnetic field is disrupted. This can cause the communication to either slow to a crawl or fail altogether. The EIA/TIA 568A and 568B Standards should dictate the method for terminating the cables. Improper termination can introduce noise and inefficiency to your network.
NOT FOLLOWING LAWS, CODES AND ORDINANCESFailure to adhere to these can cause dangerous life and safety issues. PVC jacketed cable, while less expensive than plenum cable, gives off toxic gases when burning, and it is prohibited from being installed in air handling spaces. Abandoned cable should be removed from ceiling spaces when re-cabling as it poses a tangling risk for fire fighters. For this same reason, all new cable pathways should be properly supported. Any pathway penetrations in smoke or firewalls should be blocked with the properly rated materials and installation techniques. If any of these codes are not followed properly, you risk fines, or, in worse cases, newly installed cable will have to be torn out. Make sure you use a reputable and knowledgeable cabling contractor to avoid code issues later.
NOT TESTING YOUR NETWORK CABLING AFTER INSTALLATIONOnce your cabling is installed, you must insist that your contractor test all cables to insure that they installed to proper standards. Make sure the test equipment is up to date and that its calibration is current and verified by the equipment manufacturer. You should require that your installer supply the test results for your installation.
NOT RUNNING A CABLE WHEN ONE IS NEEDEDRather than running new cables to add capacity to an area, many people make the mistake of adding an Ethernet switch to an existing cable. If the new locations that the switch services require a lot of network resources, this can create bottlenecks without intending to. Instead, just run a new cable or two. The materials are inexpensive, and the labor cost to run two cables vs. one is only slightly more.
Your Company is building or moving into a brand-new structure and you must design and implement the Low-Voltage Structured Cabling Plant. Unfortunately, you probably won’t get much help from the Architects/Engineers, General Contractors, Electrical Contractors or Equipment Vendors. Their response will probably be “That isn’t really my responsibility”, which ultimately is true.
This responsibility is not typically in the “Scope of Work” for these contractors, although each of these parties will need to be involved to assure that you get the results you are hoping for. Unless your Company has been involved in the planning and implementation of integrating IT Systems into a new building infrastructure, it would be overwhelming to place that burden solely upon you. Let’s look at how each party may handle their portion of the IT responsibility and ways to possibly improve this process.