Uncle Ted's Guide To
Communications Cabling
Who's Uncle Ted?
Overview of Structured Cabling
Wrapup, Training Programs and Equipment

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! But think about all the things they have to worry about:
  • Cabling
  • Network equipment (hubs, switches, routers, NIC cards)
  • PCs
  • 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!

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, The FOA Reference Guide To Premises Cabling. The FOA has an Online Guide to premises cabling and a free self-study course on premises cabling at Fiber U. Of course there is no substitute for good hands-on training which you can get from FOA schools. Some manufacturers offer hands-on training also. 
What About Certification?

Certification 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. The professional society we recommend for certification is the FOA for fiber optics (CFOT) and structured cabling (CPCT).

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. Be careful of cheap counterfeit tools!
  • 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!
(C) 2016 The Fiber Optic Association, Inc., all rights reserved.