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Assessing the Network Environment

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Your network environment plays a large part in determining the best type of cabling you should use.  While optical fiber offers the fastest possible bandwith and is the best medium for “future proofing” your network, certain environments are ill suited toward fiber optic installation.  Unlike twisted copper mediums like Cat5e or Cat6, optical fiber is prone to transmission problems due to dirt and scratches on the fiber.  This can be typical of dirty or dusty mechanical closets, equipment closets, and any rooms that are not clean or friendly to fiber technology.  In such cases, twisted copper solutions might be the best way to go.  Alternatively, certain environments cause problems with twisted copper mediums.    Although Cat5e and Cat6 have much improved noise immunity than their twisted copper predecessors, they are susceptible to high RF (radio frequency) and EMI (electromagnetic interference).  Hospitals, for example, have tremendous RF interference problems over twisted pair cabling.  A Cat5e or Cat6 cable running alongside a CAT scanner or NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) scanner would be rendered virtually useless due to RF interference.  In such environments, optical fiber is the ideal solution as it is all but immune to such interference.

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