Professional Learning | Empower Educators

1 What is Structured Cabling?


Structured cabling is using industry-standard best practices to design, organize, build and maintain your telecommunications infrastructure. 

This is a basic introduction to structured cabling.  To learn more, explore the following sub-topics:

  1. Standards for Structured Cabling Systems
  2. Types of Cables
  3. Terminating Cables
  4. Testing Cables
  5. Mapping Cables

You should know the following terms:

  • Structured cabling
  • Network map
  • Network topology
  • Optical Cabling
  • Patch Panel
  • Punch-down connections
  • Twisted pair cable


Structured cabling breaks down and organizes the many different telecommunications components found in buildings or campuses into smaller elements that make it easy to track, manage, and troubleshoot. “Structured” refers to the use of these smaller discrete elements. 

Structured cabling can support the transmission of data, voice, video, CCTV, alarms/security systems and other signals through your network. Even though we rely on wireless connections for many of our new devices, a structured wired cable network is the backbone of the telecommunications infrastructure. 

The components of structured cabling include twisted pair and optical cabling, patch panels, and patch cables. 

Basic Structure

  1. Cabling is run from the devices people use to a closet or room.
  2. The cables are “punched down” into a patch panel, 
  3. On the other side are connectors, often RJ45 connectors; sometimes there can be additional punch-down connections. 

Organizing all of these cables and connections makes your job of maintaining, updating, and troubleshooting your network easier to manage.

Why Structured Cabling is Important

Using structured cabling best practices has several benefits for you and your infrastructure. These can include:

  • Greater efficiency and cost savings: Installing cables and wiring following structured cabling best practices can reduce infrastructure downtime and human errors when changes have to be made. This way your network and those that rely on it can keep working, even when you are servicing an element.
  • Increased flexibility: A well-designed infrastructure that follows structured cabling best practices can make it easier to implement moves, additions, or other changes.
  • Redundancy for increased network dependability: Structured cabling includes redundancies so that the infrastructure can still support traffic if cables or wiring are compromised or while maintenance and repairs are being conducted.
  • Cybersecurity safeguards: Structured cabling incorporates levels of access and authorization to help safeguard your network.

Here are additional resources you may find useful:

Complete the following task or self-assessment:

Take a picture of one of the patch panels you will be working with and label the components.