Guidelines for planning network installations


With the cost of wireless networks dropping and their speed increasing, many clients ask us to explain the differences between them in order to help them understand how to plan for the installation of new data and phone networks. Our short answer: It is prudent to install at least a minimal wired network in any newly built space, but that a wireless network can allow for growth more fluidly than a wired one and can allow the use of space with greater flexibility.

For more information about wired versus wireless networks, please see our article on the merits of wired versus wireless networks.

To translate this approach into specifics, first please note that for residential versus commercial spaces our suggestions are slightly different.

For a residential site, we suggest a bare minimum of one data jack per room, including laundry rooms and living spaces, but not including bathrooms. If the budget allows, we prefer that at least four data lines get dropped to any anticipated home office location (to allow for desktop and portable computers, a printer, and a spare); that a data line get run to every location that is expected to have a television (for a TiVo, MP3 appliance, or equivalent device); and that a power and data jack be provided in a closet or other enclosed space adjacent to the main living area (to provide a concealed location for a wireless access point).

For a commercial site, we suggest a bare minimum of one data jack per anticipated desk location, two to the conference room, and four in an area suitable for printers.

For both site types, if the budget allows we prefer to see the data and voice cabling merged and at least three Category 5 jacks at each desk (two for data use and one for telephone).

We also generally require that all networks we work with be tested with a Category 5 certification device such as a PentaScanner and that hard copies of the reports be provided for the client’s records. For a more information about Category 5 certification, the Kray Cabling site provides a detailed explanation. For all installations, we require that the cabling drops to each jack be home-runs from that jack directly to a central patch panel, ideally located in a closet or other lightly accessed location.