Why Cable Testing is Important

You’ve been working on a big data network installation. It’s time to go live – and there’s something wrong. Perhaps it’s something as simple as one of the cables getting kinked during the installation process. You didn’t test the cabling, and now nothing’s working. What do you do? Where do you look first?

The possibility of major network outage due to cabling faults is one reason that cable testing is important. If you’ve finished a job, the last thing you want is to have to go back, pull the floor up and find the section of cable that’s the problem, which is why you need to test before you sign off on the installation.

cable-testing

What kind of problems can cable testing find?

Cable testing can find all kinds of cabling problems. Even the best installers are usually working with other tradesmen on site; they can get distracted, other workmen may dislodge cables or damage cabling that has already been laid, and manufacturing defects can make it through to final testing without being detected. That’s why testing is vital. It won’t just tell you there’s a problem – it will tell you exactly where that problem is located.

  • Are there manufacturing faults in the cable? For instance, incomplete wrapping that allows copper wires to touch could lead to major faults. Incomplete or damaged insulation is one of the biggest causes of problems. Cable testing will ensure hidden problems of this sort are found and can quickly be fixed.
  • Did cable get pulled, kinked or crushed during installation? This can be a big problem when there is a time delay between first fix and second fix, particularly if cabling hasn’t been properly protected. A good network tester will point you in the right direction – down to just a matter of inches.
  • Have all cables been terminated properly? Cables that haven’t been terminated, or have been incorrectly terminated, are a regular problem area. Cable testing will show up any issues of this sort.
  • Have pairs of cables been swapped over? Crossed, reversed and split pairs, which have been incorrectly terminated on each other’s pins, are frequent problems. A good cable tester will let you find where mistakes have been made.
  • Broken pins on a jack or patch panel can be difficult to spot through visual inspection, but a cable tester will pick up the problem, and pinpoint it so that you know exactly where to go to fix it.
  • Cables may have been run and terminated correctly, but there’s a problem when the customer tries to patch them, or the port on the switch has not been activated. If you have a complete test result file, it will show that the cable has been correctly installed, saving you and your customer time in troubleshooting since you know that the cabling isn’t the issue.
  • Have you used the right cable? With increasing data demands and network speeds, some cabling now just can’t support the network speed and technologies required. In the worst case, that might not be picked up before the network goes live, and the customer finds that access to crucial business communications has been compromised. Cable testing will find out any cabling that’s not up to requirements before it becomes a problem.

Cable testing for Certification

Cable testing allows you to demonstrate that your installation complies with required standards. Verification of standards is now required by many customers, but more importantly, it’s also required by many cable manufacturers in order for you to benefit from their warranty programs.

Cable testing and your customers

Cable testing also helps your relationship with your client. If cabling has been certified before handing it over, you’re not going to be called in every time something goes wrong; because you’ve tested the cabling, customers will generally look at other possible causes for a failure first. At the same time, your test results provide a road map of the system when your customer’s network maintenance crew are trying to locate and fix a fault.

Good cable testing will reduce the time you need to troubleshoot problems, and can help you find a solution to cabling issues more quickly. That will boost your productivity as well as delivering a demonstrably better service to your client. In fact, you could say that cable testing isn’t just helpful, it’s the single most important part of your entire cable installation process.

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