Electronic School, September 1998, p. A14

Two technology coordinators draw on their extensive experience to show you how to plan and execute a wiring project at your school. Overall, there are three areas where you need to focus your planning efforts: location of a network closet, a map of how cable will snake through your building, and the capacity of the wires you install. Here is some detailed advice covering these general areas:

  1. Find a network closet. First, you’ll need detailed blueprints of all the spaces you plan to wire. Using the blueprints, decide on a suitable location for the network closet, which is where the actual network wires connect to the hardware and servers that run the network. The room you choose should (a) be lockable; (b) measure at least 5’x8′ and have good ventilation; and (c) be far from water sources and electromagnetic fields, i.e., heavy electrical lines or equipment. You may have to set up more than one network closet to avoid cable runs of more than 300 feet, which can slow down a network.

  2. Map cabling pathways. Based on your blueprints, you’ll need to map pathways from the network closets to your classrooms and labs, and also determine how many cables will run to each room. Bear these points in mind: (a) cable shouldn’t run near transformers and light fixtures, which can cause interference; (b) special consideration must be given to cable that runs in air ducts or through building fire walls; (c) when choosing the number of cables to run to each room, be generous — cable is relatively cheap, and it’s more cost-effective to have extra cables than it is to add them on later, so place five data ports in each classroom and 30-35 data ports in computer labs; (d) count up the total length of cable you’ll need, based on your blueprints and pathways — but round up, because you can’t splice cable together to make up for a shortage.

  3. Use high-capacity wires. When installing cable, use “Category 5” cable which accommodates both regular Ethernet and the newer “Fast Ethernet” technology. That way, if you ever upgrade your network with Fast Ethernet routers, you won’t have to rewire the entire building.

For a detailed look at wiring school buildings, you can read an online article written by one of the authors at http://www.theramp.net/tenbusch