Digitalization at schools
Digitalization becomes more and more part of our daily life. In order to cope with the challenges that come with it, children should learn how to use digital media in a competent and responsible way from the beginning. In many countries, the government has raised a dedicated fund to support schools in buying digital hardware, training the teachers and invest in an appropriate IT infrastructure. As the taxpayer’s money is spent for this, economical solutions, which have to be durable, long lasting and robust at the same time, have to be selected. In order to make sure that the IT cabling of a school will work well for many years, some points have to be minded. This starts with the building itself. New constructions where the IT cabling is just added are quite rare. In most cases, old buildings have to be retro-fitted, which calls for expertise and appropriate product solutions. What is even more: Most rooms and what they are used for differs from the rooms in other buildings.
Special requirements for the student network
The easiest part of the IT cabling is the administration’s network, which is identical to the cabling of office premises according to EN 50173-2.
It has to be separated either physically or logically from the student’s network, which makes additional demands on the cabling. The outlets in a classroom are not permanently in use, and a teacher is not always present, either. Outlets with captive dust protection flaps protect the RJ45 jacks from dirt. Depending on the class level, a lockable lid that prevents from unauthorized access can be a good idea. In rooms with special use, like technology of chemistry lessons, IP44 rated outlets protect the RJ45 jacks from dust and moisture.
Product selection for school cabling
The equipment of rooms with an appropriate number of outlets and their positioning depends on the type and size of the school and building. In a greenfield installation it often makes sense to install an additional cabling for modern building automation and smart building solutions.
In any case, the IT cabling has to work for many years. Cheap products that are sometimes used in office networks very often do not survive for a long time in the tough and demanding school environment. Robust, durable high-quality products that will work for many years are an economical solution at the end of the day.
The network structure of a school building is identical to the structure in office buildings. The cabling standards ISO/IEC 11801-1 and -2- and EN 50173-1 and -2 specify a structure with three areas:
- Between the buildings (campus) fiber optic cables are preferred as the link lengths are too high to use copper cables.
Up to 400 meters multimode fibers can be used, for longer lengths single mode fibers are necessary.
- Between the floors inside of a building (riser) fiber optic cables are preferred as well to avoid electrical problems causes by different electrical potentials on each floor which can cause transmission problems.
As the link lengths are in most cases below 400 meters, multimode fibers are typically used
- On the floor between distributor and outlet (horizontal), copper cables that can also transmit electrical current to supply IT devices with up to 71.3 watts of electrical power are installed.
PCs and notebooks are sold with a 10/100/1000 network interface card, which means they can transmit data rates from 10 to 1000 megabits per second (= 1 gigabit per second), and so 1 gigabit per second is the minimum requirement for IT cabling in schools. Cabling components – cable, plug and jack – that meet the categories 5 and 6, as specified in the cabling standards, are designed for data rates up to 1 gigabit per second. The cabling standard ISO/IEC 11801-2:2017-11 specifies IT cabling to have a life expectancy of at least ten years. IT cabling that is installed today and that is just capable to meet the maximum data rate of today’s devices is not future-proof. The cabling components should meet the requirements of the next level too, which is category 6A for data rates of 10 megabits per second to 10 gigabits per second, in order to be useful for many years. Components of an even higher category are not helpful, as the maximum link length dramatically decreases then. The maximum length of the channel – the cabling link including the patch cords on both ends – for data rates up to 10 gigabits per second is 100 meters. With 25/40 Gigabit Ethernet, it comes down to 30 meters. Depending on the cabling components, 25 gigabits per second can be transmitted over a channel up to 50 meters; this is more than enough for a server room, but not for the cabling of a building.
Advantages through pre-terminated cables
When pre-terminated cables are installed, there is no need for the time-consuming splicing of fibers or polishing of connectors on site nor for elaborate testing. All of this has already be done by the manufacturer, the pre-terminated cables just have to be installed and plugged in. A short test with a simple optical loss test, set after the cable is installed, is sufficient. As the installation of pre-terminated cables is quick and easy, interfering with teaching activities in the building is reduces to a minimum.
Equipment of building and floor distributors
In most cases a 19“ cabinet is used for the building distributor in the plant room. Inside of the cabinet 19” patch panels and switches are installed.
On the floors, small cabinets or wall-mount cabinets are typically installed as floor distributors in engineering or storage rooms. Not every school building has an engineering room on each floor, so often other rooms have to be used instead.
Discover products and applications now
You would like to discover our products directly in the classroom? Then visit our virtual Telegärtner World and learn more about our product portfolio and the versatile application possibilities.
View products in the online catalogue.
Practical tips on product solutions for schools
Data outlets for cable raceways with integrated dust protection Single, double or triple outlet: Hinged, captive flaps protect the RJ45 ports from dust. The outlets should also fit into the majority of leading installation programs. An optional lockable lid provided by the manufacturer of the installation program prevents unauthorized access.
Short RJ45 modules prevent cable kinks
Particularly short RJ45 modules are ideal in cable raceway installation. They leave enough space for controlled cable routing without kinking the cable even in rather flat cable raceways. As a future-proof solution offering maximum protection of your investment, it should be able to transmit 10 Gigabit Ethernet 10GBASE-T and PoE class 8, the highest PoE class specified in IEEE 802.3bt. The contacts of the modules should be optimized by design for remote powering: The area where the data is transmitted should be far away from the area spark erosion occurs when being unmated under load. An integrated protection against overbending of the contacts makes sure the RJ45 jack transmits the full data rate even after RJ11 and RJ12 plugs of telephones and fax machines have been plugged in several times.
Well protected - Lockable IP44 rated wall-mount outlets for extra protection
Tamper-proof IP44 rated wall-mount outlets with lockable lid are the perfect choice for outlets that are not permanently used, e.g. in the auditorium, the canteen, plant rooms, the gym and any other area where teachers are not always present.
Unobtrusive, compact mini distributors on walls and ceilings save space
Mini distributors that can be mounted on walls and on the ceiling can serve as distributors as well as consolidation points. They are available in various sizes from small to large, for RJ45, fiber optic, coax or a mixture of them for nearly any application.
Field-installable RJ45 plugs with 90° cable exit for concealed installation
For security or aesthetic reasons it is sometimes not desired to connect IP cameras or Wi-Fi access points to outlets using patch cords. A field-installable plug that is mounted directly on the horizontal cable solves this problem. When the access point is installed on top of the cable exit, there is not enough space for a connector with a straight boot. The cable exit of plugs with a 90° exit that can be oriented to the left, to the right, up or down during installation and that can also be changed later on-site facilitates installation tremendously.
Horizontal cable in schools have to be flame retardant and powerful
In case of fire, every minute counts. This is why data cables that meet the high requirements of class B2cas1ad1a1 of the European Construction Products Regulation are highly recommended. In schools, there are many people present in each room, and with so many children, it often takes some more time to evacuate a building. Suitable materials offer the crucial plus of safety. As a really future-proof solution offering maximum protection of the investment, the horizontal cable should be able to reliably transmit 10 Gigabit Ethernet 10GBASE-T. The large wire diameter of AWG22/1 makes sure it can also be used for Power over Ethernet (PoE) according to IEEE 802.3bt with an electrical current of up to 960 milliamps per wire pair.
RJ45 patch cords with angled boots for refined spaces
RJ45 patch cords with a 90° cable boot ensure reliable connections where there is not enough space for cords with a straight boot. Bending a straight boot by 90° almost always breaks the cable. But when an angled boot is installed during the manufacturing process, cords wit 90° boots reliably deliver the full performance.
Coloured cable jackets for efficient network operation
Teachers have a lot to do, so they cannot become IT specialists on top of their daily work. The IT network has to be easy-to-use. Using RJ45 patch cords in different colours to identify different networks and applications makes network operations a lot easier, e.g. grey for the student network, blue for the teacher network, green for the administration network, white for WiFi, red for security devices, yellow for the internet connections. One can the network a connection belongs to at first sight.
Space advantage of modular patch panels
Modular high-density patch panels allow for many ports in little space. As different media like twisted pair, coaxial and fiber optics can be mixed in the same panel, there is no need for individual panels for each medium. This saves a lot of space in the rack, which comes in handy especially in retrofits. The modular design of the panel makes additions, changes and technology upgrades easy.
Additional safety by integrated laser protection
Data rates of 1 gigabit per second and above are transmitted over optical fibers using laser light. The LC adaptors of the HD³-ES fiber optic modules have integrated laser protection flaps to prevent hazardous laser light from escaping unused ports.
Coax connections for modern mobile phone networks
Coaxial cables transmit high-frequency signals far better than any other type of copper cables. This is why in the foreseeable future coaxial cables and connectors will still be unrivaled. In most cases, however, only a few coax ports are needed, so a dedicated coax patch panel would not make sense. Modular patch panels accept modules with coaxial connectors as well as RJ45 and fiber optic modules, which saves space and money.
Pre-terminated cables mean quicker installation
Installing cables in a school and terminating them properly takes a lot time and interferes with the school’s normal operation. Pre-terminated cables are ready to be connected and just have to be plugged into the patch panel or the outlet. Done. No cable stripping, no splicing, no installing of connectors and no elaborate field tests on site – all of this was already done by the manufacturer.
Field-installable fiber optic plugs for quick and easy installation on site
Field-installable LC and SC connectors are installed directly on the buffered fibers – no need for splicing nor gluing nor polishing. Just strip the cable and the fiber, prepare it and install the connector. Field-installable fiber optic connectors are available with single mode and multimode fibers for loose tube, breakout and mini-breakout cables.
Fiber optic patch panels for 19” rack mount
Standard 19” rack-mount panels are available looking with or without pigtails, sliding or fixed, modular or not, to populate with only one or with many different fiber types – there are products for virtually any requirement.
Fiber optic internet connection by Fiber To The Building (FTTB)
Schools need a fast connection to the internet. The fiber that the network provider brings into the building has to be continued to the IT building distributor and to be terminated properly there. Despite their really compact size, fiber optic outlets should have a cable slack storage with bend radius support to protect the optical fibers from being damaged. Ideally, it is also available with a cable that is pre-terminated on one side and already plugged into the adaptors inside of the outlet.