Network Cabling: Available Options

Network Cabling: Available Options

As their IT consultant, your small business prospects and clients will need you to explain the different network cabling options available to them.

Traditional Wired Ethernet (Category 5)

Until very recently, Category 5 data cabling was the de facto standard for both enterprise and small business LANs. Today, you’ll find some enhancements available to Category 5 cabling, as well as booming interest in wireless Ethernet solutions.

If your computer consulting firm won’t be installing Category 5 network cabling for your small business clients’ networks, get an estimate from a local data cabling vendor that can install certified cabling runs to each office or desk.

Ensure the Network Cabling Job is Completed "To Spec"

Most reputable Category 5 cable installers will be able to provide you with hard copy reports of Category 5 certification tests, your assurance that the job was completed "to spec" -- making for a much more reliable networking experience.

The Ethernet Hub and Network Card

To string together a traditional wired Ethernet network based on Category 5 network cabling, your clients will simply need to purchase a 10/100Mbps Ethernet hub or switch, and a 10/100Mbps network card for each PC.

These are very mature, inexpensive products and great for creating inexpensive, high performance small business networks.

Wireless Ethernet Based on 802.11b (11Mbps)

802.11b wireless is also a relatively mature standard that provides up to 11Mbps Ethernet service. Although wireless networking hardware is more expensive than comparable wired Ethernet equipment, your clients will save on the installation costs of Category 5 data network cabling.

It could very well be break-even cost-wise and there’s no need to drill holes in your clients’ office walls or in the baseboard.

Drawbacks to Wireless Ethernet

First, since the standards between different 802.11b-compatibile products are still relatively new, you can sometimes experience great difficulty in trying to connect 802.11b products from different vendors. If possible, stick with the same 802.11b hardware vendor across the board.

Second, security standards are still evolving. The wireless encryption protocol (WEP) that 802.11b products use is widely known to be "easily" hack-able. Just be sure that your clients are aware of the security limitations before they commit to wireless Ethernet.

The Bottom Line About Network Cabling

Even if your computer consulting firm doesn’t handle Category 5 and other kinds of network cabling work, you need to be involved in the design specifications and supervision of network cabling. For assistance working with data cabling companies, see Partnering with Other Computer Consultants and Subcontracting Success both available for immediate download.

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