HDMI, VGA, CAT 5e or CAT 6: The Alphabet Soup of Low Voltage Cabling & Security Systems

Lindsay Scherr


By Lindsay Scherr,
Business Development Manager,
ASE Telecom & Data

Low voltage cabling is a crucial, yet confusing part of the construction process. It combines construction and IT, and often falls in the grey area between those two sectors. One of the challenges of designing a structured cabling and security system is navigating the “alphabet soup” of abbreviations and specific vocabulary to figure out exactly what one might need during the build out process. We have clients who know down to their last outlet how many cables they need, but the majority say “I need my phone and internet to work, oh and we want a TV in the lobby and the conference room”. Here is a list of cabling and security terms broken down for you:

Access Controls: These are devices installed at the entrance of various locations to allow or deny access to certain spaces within a larger building. They can be either biometric (using a fingerprint to gain access) or have a key pad or special key card access.

Cable Ladder or Runway: This is a latter that is installed horizontally between the wall and the racks and/or cabinets to support the cables.

CAT 5e: This is a 100 MHz rated 4-pair cable used to transmit voice and data.

CAT 6: A faster, more robust version of the Cat 5e cable. It is rated at 250 MHz.

COAX (Coaxial Cable): This is an audio/video cable to be used with TVs for off air programming services.

D-Marc (Demarcation): A D-Marc is the room where the local exchange carrier(s) and/or other service provider(s) bring their service to the building or the property. From the D-Marc, individual tenants and owners are required to extend the D-Marc into their main telecommunications room.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): Cable that is used primarily is residential settings. The same cable carries both voice and data, is slower than a T1 line, but also a lot less expensive.

HDMI: This is a cable used for both audio and video on TV screens. This can also hook up computers, game consoles, DVD players, etc. to your TV.

Patch Cords (Patch Cables): Another name for cables that connect from one piece of equipment to another, typically from the patch panels to the Ethernet switches and from the work station outlet to the PC, printer, phone or fax machine. These can refer to coax, cat 5e or cat 6 cable, optical fiber cables, etc.

Patch Panels: These are panels that sit in your server rack or cabinet and connect to your cat 5e or 6 cables. From the patch panels the users are connected to an Ethernet switch and ultimately to the local and/or wide area networks.

Pop Ups: Primarily located in conference room tables, these devices allow you to plug in your computer and telephone to the local area network devices.

Server Racks and Cabinets: A rack is open on all sides and can be a 2 post or a 4 post rack. A cabinet has front and rear doors and side panels. You would be shocked how much people confuse these two terms.

Stub-Up: Conduit that will hold the low voltage cabling. This can be in the wall or in the floor.

VGA (Video Graphics Array): VGA cables are typically used to connect a computer to a monitor, TV, or projector and transmit only video (no audio). We use these cables in conference rooms primarily, and our clients use them to connect their monitors to their laptops and/or desktop computers.

Cable Manager (Also referred to as Wire Management): A channel or system that keeps cables and patch cords organized. This helps to eliminate messy “cable spaghetti”.

These are just some of many technical terms that make up the low voltage cabling systems we install every day. We can help you decipher the “alphabet soup” that is involved in structured cabling and security systems and get you to the desired result to be able to get down to business. Now that’s not hard to understand.

For more information regarding ASE’s services, please visit ASETelecom.com or call (305) 471-9888.