When considering technology in your community, you might first think of TVs, wireless nurse call or video surveillance. But some of the most important pieces of technology in your community are the data cables supporting all of your systems.
When selecting data cables, consider future upgrades and up-and-coming technology because the cables you choose today will likely outlast today’s technology. The life expectancy of most data cables is about 10 to 12 years.
WiFi is another big factor in choosing data cables because you’ll need the appropriate cables to support your wireless network. By planning for the future, you won’t have to make costly upgrades to your data cables when upgrading other technology.
Copper vs. Fiber Optic Data Cables
When it comes to choosing data cables, the two choices are copper and fiber optic.
The more traditional option, copper data cables can transmit data and power. The downside to copper is the maximum length of a single cable (90 meters), which limits the distance it can be installed. Because of this limitation, additional telecom rooms and electronics are required, which adds extra costs.
Fiber optic data cables are much smaller and can transmit larger amounts of data. A single fiber optic cable may be the size of a human hair and can transmit data, TV signal and phone to a resident room. While fiber also has a maximum length, you won’t exceed it within your building.
Although you may hear talk about ditching data cables, the truth is your building may need more wires now than ever to support wireless technology. Here’s what else to consider as you plan your data cables:
Your wireless local area network (LAN) connects technology wirelessly in your building and in the immediate area surrounding your building. You may be using 2.4 GHz WiFi now, which has a large coverage area and is used by consumer devices, occasionally resulting in interference. The newer 5 GHz WiFi is two to three times faster, but it has a shorter range. You’ll likely need more access points within your building as well as new data cables to install 5 GHz.
Your building likely has a cellular connection to a service provider outside of the building, like Verizon or AT&T. While you may have 4G LTE now, 5G is spreading across the country. It’s three times faster, but the coverage isn’t as widespread, meaning you may need to add cellular booster systems if you can’t get 5G coverage in your building.
Nearfield communications include Bluetooth or contactless connections, which are popular for wearable technology, smartphones, tablets and vital signs equipment. Having the proper data cables will help ensure these devices run smoothly.
There’s a lot to consider when planning the technology infrastructure for your community, including the new 5 GHz WiFi, 5G, digital electricity and more. To hear more about these topics, watch our Technology in the Real World webinar.