Structured Wiring – Choosing Internet, Video, and Telephone Wiring

This page provides an introduction to help you in organizing the components of your structured wiring. You should check out the availability of the required tools and equipment before starting any installation work. Experience with running cables in an office or house and through walls with fire stopping is a plus.

The following wiring types may be involved in the office or home installation.

  • Data
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Telephone
  • Infrared Control
  • Fiber Optics
  • Voice over IP (VOIP)  and
  • Alarm (with surveillance video)

We will discuss data, video, and telephone wiring.


Data networking allows you to:

  • Share a single internet connection among multiple PCs
  • Share and access data stored on multiple PCs from any connected computers
  • Share resources like printers, scanners etc

Wired Ethernet (10, 100, 1000 Base T) is a good choice for data networking for multiple reasons. Security, cost and speed are the compelling features. Cat5 cabling (replaced by Cat5e) supports Fast Ethernet at a speed of 100 Mbps (100 Base T). Cat5e and Cat6 will support Gigabit Ethernet. (1000 Base T). Wireless networks are slower (20 Mbps on standards 802.11a  and 802.11g ) and are subject to security threats and cost more as compared to wired Ethernet.  Wireless Ethernet runs at only 6 Mbps. on standard 802.11b. 

A wireless network can also be considered in addition to a wired Ethernet network. This will enable more flexibility in the distribution of data, for your office or home. For wired Ethernet, fiber optic cables may provide better performance, transmission distance, and speed but are more expensive and can be more difficult to install, especially if the connectors are attached at the job site.

 Ethernet for office or home is available in three forms based on their speeds, 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, and 1000 Mbps (gigabit) Ethernet. 10 Mbps Ethernet is an older system and is rarely used now. However 100 Mbps Ethernet (commonly known as Fast Ethernet )and Gigabit Ethernet support almost all new Ethernet components.

Cat5e has presently replaced Cat5 in general.  There are legacy systems that still use Cat5 cabling . Therefore some installations may attempt to use the Cat5 installed wiring for gigabit Ethernet for short runs.  This operation would have to be carefully tested to ensure correct operation.  A Fluke 1800 tester would be a good choice to test for the correct setup.

Cat5 cabling systems not only support Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps) for short distances, but can also accommodate 100 Mbps and 10 Mbps cabling systems. More advanced categories like Cat5e and Cat6 can also be used. Although Cat5e and Cat5 are rated for 100 Mbps, Cat5e has more headroom and higher capabilities in a number of categories.   Look at the following chart to get an idea about these categories.