Uncle Ted's Guide To
VDV (voice/data/video) Cabling
Who's Uncle Ted?
Overview of Structured Cabling
Wrapup, Training Programs and Equipment

About VDV Works
Who Cares About Cabling?
The typical buyer of a cabling system is an IT (information technology) or network manager. Cabling represents only a few percent of their budget, yet it may cause half their problems! Think about all the things they have to worry about:
Network equipment (hubs, switches, routers, NIC cards)
Software - licenses, upgrades, etc.
User training
Security - viruses and hackers
User abuse of the systems
What the IT manager wants is cabling that is installed on time and works properly at a reasonable cost. Over the lifetime of their network, they may spend several times the original cost in MACs (moves, adds and changes). It's important to remember that they are looking for professionalism not price!
Manufacturers' Warranties
Most cabling system manufacturers offer long warranties on the performance of their cabling. In order to qualify for these warranties, you must use all their products or products they have approved and it must be installed by one of their certified installers.
How Long Is A "Lifetime Warranty" Good For?
At one of our Cable U Conferences, we had a session on manufacturers certification and warranties. Manufacturers of cabling products offer warranties of 15-25 years or even lifetime warranties if the cabling uses their components and is installed by one of their certified installers. What does this mean?
Many users think it means the manufacturer and installer guarantee the cable plant they have installed will support their network needs for that length of time. No so! It means the cable plant will still meet Cat 5 /5e/6 performance limits over that period of time. Assuming you could find a working Cat 5/5e tester in 2013 (anybody starting a Structured Cabling Museum?), the cable would still have to pass Cat 5 /5e requirements accroding to the warranty.
The only cable plant warranty that makes sense is the "Lifetime Warranty," since the lifetime of any cable you install today is highly unlikely to last longer than 5 years!

Get Trained Properly Before You Start
The most important part of getting started in data/voice/video cabling installations is getting trained. The oft-quoted statistic that 80% of all Cat 5/5e installations would not pass standard specs is a result of too many installers working without proper training. Maybe some have installed telephone wiring successfully for years, but unless they follow the standards and use proper installation and termination procedures, they will ruin the performance of the cabling they install.
We suggest you read everything you can about cabling. Of course we recommend our book Data, Voice and Video Cable Installation.
This guide is another recommendation, of course, but there is no subsititue for good hands-on training. VDV Works offers "hands-on" self-study programs or has lots of good trainers who will bring a complete training program to your company. Contact us for some suggestions.
What About Certification?
Certification has many meanings, like "certifying cabling" by testing with equipment called a "certifier" that checks it's performance compared to the standards or tests to ensure it works with network signals (usually called a "verification" test using a tool called, logically, a "verifier.")
Certification also means that someone certifies an individual's knowledge, skills and abilities (called KSAs) in a topic, such as cabling installation. There are many people who offer certification of cabling designers and installers, including most manufactureres. Two non-profit professional societies we recommend for certification are the FOA for fiber optics and SCA for structured cabling.
Tools and Test Equipment
Many years involvement in the cabling business and training installers have left us with some strong opinions on tools and test equipment. Let's list them:
Buy the best tools you can afford. They will last longer and cost less in the long run.
Try them before you buy them to see if you like how they work.
Check them out before you go out on a job. Make sure all the tools are in good shape, you have all the accessories you will need, testers have fresh batteries or a recharge, and make sure you remember how to use everything.
After the job is finished, check everything again, replace or fix whatever needs replacing or fixing, before you take your kit back in the field.
Good installing!
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