It Pays to Build it Right

Recently I installed several network lines for a client of mine. Normally, I estimate about one hour of labor for each network jack installed. The knowledge, experience, tools, and hazards involved mean that installing network lines already costs more than removing viruses or configuring a router in a small office. The lack of standardization in this client’s physical network pushed the bottom line even higher.

There are fairly well established standards for how a network should be wired. What types of cables, what wiring patterns, how to manage the cables…all of these considerations (and more!) can help keep a network running at higher speeds and efficiencies. For example, ethernet cables (whether cat5 or cat6) contain eight wires. You can save money by using four of those wires for a desktop computer and two for a phone. That is unless your telephone and network switches aren’t close together, you never have to hire a new IT professional,you never want to upgrade to a faster network, and nothing ever happens to damage some of the individual wires in your cables.

Here are some good network wiring practices:

  1. Label everything and keep an updated document that tells where every wire goes. This is difficult, but could save a lot of time later. Unfortunately, it’s usually impossible to keep such good records if you don’t do it from the very beginning.
  2. Use one cable for each device. If you have multiple phone jacks at one location, you can usually get away with sharing the same cable for several phones. If you do, just realize that this will cost more time spent in troubleshooting and upgrading later, especially if you change IT personnel at some point.
  3. Follow industry standards whenever possible. One network engineer should always be able to look at another engineer’s work and tell exactly what is going on without spending hours (or days!) deciphering a non-standard setup.


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