With Wi-Fi being so widely used in offices around Australia, some office managers don't use computer network cabling these days. Nevertheless, Wi-Fi has certain limitations in terms of the amount of data that it can carry. When you have lots of users all trying to access the same Wi-Fi, data transfer rates can slow to a pedestrian level. Equally, in some offices, there are so-called 'dead spots' where the Wi-Fi signal simply will not reach.
The answer to both of these issues is to install data cabling so that devices like PCs, printers, photocopiers and video conferencing equipment can all receive the bandwidth they need to work effectively. Given a physical connection to the server, such devices work faster, but how does this technology function?
In a network cable, there is more than one connection that takes place. This is the key to allowing very rapid transfers of data. When you plug a data cable jack – known as an RJ45 terminal – into your computer, then several pairs of untwisted wires are connected to the terminal simultaneously. The entire cable is then surrounded by an outer sheath to keep everything covered and protected from electrical interference. Modern data cables, such as Cat5 and Cat6, can offer connection speeds that support 10/100 MB per second transfer rates, or even higher. This is much quicker than most Wi-Fi connections, especially at busy times.
When you set up a local area network, such as can be found in most offices, data is transmitted in what are called packets to every terminal until the intended recipient is found. Such traffic is sent along the cables that are plugged into a switch so that wherever you happen to plug your computer in, data that is intended for you will be found. In other words, because you are using a physical connection to allow your computer to 'talk' to others, you are not necessarily tied down to a single location.
In this sense, data cabling is just as flexible as Wi-Fi in an office, so long as there are sufficient cables available to plug into. In most offices where enough network cables have been installed to support workers in all location, this is referred to as flood wiring. Given that network cables can be installed cost-effectively by a commercial electrician, it may be time to consider moving over to faster physical connections and relying on Wi-Fi less.