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Structured cabling design and installation is governed by a set of standards that determine how to wire a data center, office or apartment building for data or voice communications, These standards define how to lay the cabling in a star formation, such that all outlets terminate at a central patch panel (which is normally 19 inch rack-mounted), from where it can be determined exactly how these connections will be used. Each outlet can be ‘patched’ into a data network switch (normally also rack mounted alongside), or patched into a ‘telecoms patch panel’ which forms a bridge into a private branch exchange (PBX) telephone system, thus making the connection a voice port.
Lines patched as data ports into a network switch require simple straight-through patch cables at the other end to connect a computer. Voice patches to PBXs in most countries require an adapter at the remote end to translate the configuration on 8P8C modular connectors into the local standard telephone wall socket. In the U.S., no adapter is needed, as the 6P6C plug used with RJ11 telephone connections is physically compatible with the larger 8P8C socket and the wiring of the 8P8C is compatible with RJ11. In the UAE, an adapter must be present at the remote end as the 6-pin BT socket is physically incompatible with 8P8C.
It is normal to see different colour patch cables used in the patch panel to help identify which type of connection is being carried, though the structured cabling standards do not require this, except in the demarcation wall field Cabling standards demand that all eight connectors in Cat5/5e/6 cable are connected,
resisting the tempation to ‘double-up’ or use one cable for both voice and data. This is generally a good thing as it means that they fully support features such as Power over Ethernet which require the so-far unused brown cables.