Network Installation & Configuration: The Ultimate Guide

commercial data cabling

Networks are everywhere in today’s business world, connecting everything from cash registers to office computers.

As business grows, having a stable and reliable network is ideal. Wired networks, which use cables to transmit data, are often more reliable and secure than wireless ones that depend on radio signals.

Wired network installation offers many advantages in terms of connectivity and security. Let’s delve into the details of what’s involved, including costs, requirements, and equipment needed for installation.

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What’s Network Installation?

Network installation involves selecting and placing hardware and equipment that will form the network’s physical body and connective tissue.

For many commercial networks, this looks like a dedicated room outfitted with high-performance servers and equipment racks with complex cabling. These heavy-duty networks support centralized data storage, voice and data programs, and sometimes even building security and surveillance. 

For smaller companies, this often looks like a web router configured to work with a particular set of desktop computers, phones, and other equipment. Still, it can take other forms according to the business’s needs. The crucial thing is that the hardware installation connects two or more computerized items to create a network, whether the enterprise network is big or small.

Read this article to learn more about What network installation.

Network-Based Installation

The network installation process includes designing, planning, and implementing hardware and software that results in a cohesive, well-configured computer network.

This enterprise network uses Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi networks to access the Internet and communicate. It needs to meet the needs of the business, establish a stable and reliable network connection, and be easy to maintain.

Network Wiring Installation

Network Installation

Network wiring is often complex enough to baffle even those who love technology. This kind of wiring is highly specialized and needs to be installed and organized in a very specific way to create a reliable network and avoid maintenance problems.

Cabling Practices to Avoid

  • Refrain from routing cables through pipes and holes since this can restrict future cable additions.
  • Do not put extra twists in the cable.
  • Do not position copper cables above or within the same runs as fiber cables, as their weight can crush them.
  • Do not place cables in positions that block access to other equipment in and out of the racks.
  • Never let cables be loose on the floor; instead, use the overhead, vertical, and horizontal organizer for proper cable management.

Best Practices in Network Cabling

  • Label all cables at their origin point and their termination.
  • Test every cable during installation, and label and remove dysfunctional ones.
  • Use bend-loss-resistant cables when bending is unavoidable. 
  • Choose the right network design cabling with sufficient vertical and horizontal runs to avoid downtime.
  • Use thin, high-density cables in tight spaces to allow for more overall.
  • Carefully measure each patch cable to fit.
  • Leave some slack at each cable end to allow for device movement.
  • Use cable spools within the equipment cases to prevent cables from bending and fraying.
  • Use soft, flexible Velcro ties instead of zip ties to corral cables together every two feet.
  • Document all cabling components and map their distribution. Do software updates for seamless connectivity.
  • Use cable guides for proper cable management.

Read this article to learn more about How to install network cables.

How Much Does It Cost to Install Network Wiring?

The estimated cost to install network wiring depends on your project’s size, site, the amount of hardware required, and the labor hours required to install your new network.

Installing a hardwired computer network between a small office building can cost between $500 and $1000 while wiring a large office building (which may have specialized equipment that also needs to be incorporated into the network with individual data ports) costs between $2000 and $6000.

Each of the different types of wiring used to install a network have different capacities and cost points:

Cat 5e Cable

This is the cheapest type of network cable, but it is also the slowest and least reliable. The industry is in the process of phasing it out. Some still use Cat5 cable as a cost-cutting measure, but we don’t recommend it.

Cat 6 Cable

This cable is excellent for many small-scale projects, as it is very affordable and available and offers very fast data speeds up to 10 GB–as long as the run of the cable is under 90 meters. 

Cat 7 Cable

Although more expensive than Cat 5e and Cat 6, Cat 7 cable also offers optimal performance. Its runs can be much longer than Cat 6 runs and virtually never experience crosstalk (cross-cable interference). Its top speed is also 10 GB.

Fiber Optic Cable

This cable type is the fastest, most reliable, and most expensive. Instead of thin copper thread, fiber optic cables use thin strands of glass. They also sometimes require special tools to install. However, their many benefits make them the perfect option for businesses that need a network that supports a large number of computers or computerized equipment or businesses that have large facilities that need to be connected by a network.

Network Installation Cost

Network Wiring Installation Cost: How much does it cost?

The biggest factor in network installation cost is hardware. Beyond wiring, there’s a fair amount of other hardware that needs to be in place for a network to function:

  • RJ45 connectors
  • Data plugs
  • Wallplates
  • Wireless router and access points
  • Patch panels
  • Patch cables
  • Conduits
  • Ethernet switches
  • Plastic grommets
  • Velcro strips and cable ties

The more equipment you need to loop into your network–such as printers, security cameras, computer-assisted networking devices, etc.–the more data points, feet of cabling, and man-hours your network installation will need.

Network Installation Cost Estimate

Talk to a professional installer to get a reliable network installation cost estimate. Some installers can give you an estimate over the phone based on baseline information, such as whether your building is older or purpose-built for you, how large your building is, and how complicated your network will be.

However, we recommend working with network installers who do in-person site assessments before they provide a quote, even if you have to pay for the assessment. It is much easier to get an accurate network installation cost estimate from someone who has seen your site and understands your business’s needs.

Over-the-phone estimates should be more frequently underestimated, which can lead to sticker shock later on when you find out that the actual cost was much higher. Get someone to look at your facility and discuss your networking requirements with you at the outset, and they’ll be able to give you an estimate much closer to the project’s eventual cost.

Which Network Installation Cost Is Low?

Smaller networks cost less to install because they need less hardware than larger networks. However, by identifying the right topology for your needs and the most efficient installation, you can help keep your network installation cost low.

Cabling and workforce account for much of the cost of network installation. You can keep costs down by opting for Cat6 cable instead of Cat7 or by sourcing additional hardware instead of using an installer or contractor. 

You can also keep network installation costs low by creating a comprehensive network design and installation plan. This will help you accurately estimate the overall cost of workforce and equipment and the time the installation will take.

Network Installation Fees & Prices

Network installation fees will vary based on the market prices of the network components. 

The price of network cables depends on the type. Cat 6 cable costs around $700 for 2,000 feet installed, while Cat 7 cable costs around $1,200 for 2,000 feet. The average cost of fiber optic cables is between $2 and $4 per linear foot, or $4,000-$8,000 for 2,000 feet.

When it comes to other components, the cost per unit is lower, but you do need multiples of each:

  • Velcro strips: $10 to $20
  • Metal cable management strips: $25 to $85
  • Patch panel: $10 and $100 Wi-Fi range extenders: $15 to $80
  • Ethernet port with wall-mounted panel: $10 and $25
network cable installation san francisco

Network Installation Rate

Never choose an installer simply because they offer the lowest bid. When selecting an installer, always follow up on reviews, referrals, and professional accreditations.

Generally, the labor rate for network installation is $50 to $100 per hour, and the installation can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Read this article to learn how much it costs to install network wiring.

Network Installation Requirements

Before anything else comes the planning stage. Even simple networks have a certain amount of complexity, so a clear planning phase for what your network will look like and the network monitoring tools and standards that your installation will need go a long way toward streamlining the entire process.

Network Topology & Trends

The first stage in the network installation planning phase is selecting a network topology. There are two types of network topology:

Physical network topology is the actual physical arrangement of your network’s networking devices, cabling, and connective links.

Logical network topology describes the IT processes by which your network exchanges information.

Getting both of these right gives optimal performance and optimized cost efficiency. Plus, having detailed and up-to-date topology maps helps IT professionals diagnose, troubleshoot, and fix possible problems like speed lag or bad connectivity.

What Are the Different Types of Network Installation

In business, three topologies are most common:

Star Topology

Connects all devices to a central switch. It’s easy to add and connect devices to this network, and the cabling is very efficient. However, the central network switch must be regularly inspected and maintained.

Mesh Topology

Every device is connected to every other device, providing a robust system with high-speed data transfer. This type of network is highly reliable thanks to many redundancies, but it can also be expensive because it requires large amounts of cable and data ports.

Tree Topology

This topology arranges nodes in a hierarchy, with different levels of “branches” of devices arranged up and down a “trunk” or central connection that links together each of the different branches. This topology is highly functional for many businesses thanks to its high-speed data transfer and easy fault identification and maintenance. However, it requires a fair amount of hardware, and the network will go down if the “trunk” fails.

Read this article to learn more about Network installation requirements.

Network installation Steps

First, calculate how much cabling you will need for your project. Select a location for your central server and router, and then measure the distance from each node back to this location.

Depending on the topology your network will occupy–star, mesh, tree, etc.–you may need additional cabling to loop nodes themselves together.

Then, select and collect other necessary hardware. This includes your Ethernet router, switch, server, data plugs, plates, connectors, switches, and cable ties. Here’s how to install Ethernet cable correctly.

Other network monitoring tools you’ll need for network setup are:

  • Punch down tool for punching down and snipping wire.
  • Crimping tool for joining modular connections.
  • The network test tool can test 8P (RJ45) and 6P (RJ11 and RJ12) connections.

Network Installation & Configuration

Position Wall Plates

These wall plates are the conduits between your devices and the cabling leading them to your router, so they must be carefully positioned. The best places for wall plates are easily accessible and avoid other electrical components such as power outlets and light switches.

Cut Holes for Wall Plates

Before any holes are cut, it’s important to turn off the relevant switches in the breaker box and cut the power to the building. When it comes to cutting holes, always measure twice and cut once.

Run Cable

Now, with the power still off, is the time to run the cable between the router and the terminal wall plates. This sometimes involves getting into the building’s walls and ceiling, especially if it’s an older building and not purpose-built with cabling in mind.

Test Connection

Once the cable is run through and connected at both ends, it’s time to test the network connection before connecting devices. This is accomplished using a network testing tool, which uses a series of lights flashing in a particular order to indicate whether the connection is active or not.

Network configuration

Once the network is operational, you can begin adding and configuring servers, routers, computers, and other connected devices for security measures.

Network Installation Documentation

It’s important to document the network installation as you or a professional go. Include your topology, equipment lists, device names, network names, passwords, and other relevant information. 

In addition to helping you keep track of where you are and what you need in your project, network installation documentation makes ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting down the line much, much easier.

Network Installation Diagram

wifi-network basic topology diagram

Diagrams are especially helpful documentation because they can help you visualize the parts of the network that are either intangible or hidden from view. 

Network installers use a numbered patch panel and correspondingly numbered wall plates to clarify where each cable starts and ends, and record this in a diagram so that if a terminal data port ever experiences defects, only one cable needs to be inspected and replaced. 

Diagrams also help differentiate your network’s topology from other types, which is again helpful for security measures.

Network Installation Engineer

As you can see, network installation is more complex than simply setting up a Wi-Fi router. Wired network installation demands more expertise in IT equipment like routers, switches, and servers and connectivity equipment like cabling, data plugs, wall ports, and more.

Network installation engineers often provide a smoother installation process and a more reliable network overall. These professionals are experienced in the best ways to plan, install, arrange, and scale a network to meet their clients’ needs.

Network Infrastructure Installation

Sometimes, you’ll need to invest in additional infrastructure to get your network up and running. This can include proper cable management systems such as cabinets or racks, building a server room or adapting an existing room to that purpose, or doing some renovations to allow cabling to pass through parts of the building.

Read this article to learn more about the steps for network installation.

What Are the Types of Network Installation

network-installation

Network Installation in Building

Often, the best time to install a network is when a structure is actually being built. This allows you or a network installation engineer to easily install hardware like cables and wall plates since the walls are open the way they are in older constructions.

Network Installation at Home

Network installations at home are increasingly common as remote work and freelancing change the workplace landscape. A wired home network often provides a better working experience than a wireless.

Home network installation usually involves connecting just one or two rooms to a server, sometimes up to four. There is a certain amount of disruption, but because the scale of the project is small compared to most networks, this type of installation is relatively quick and easy.

Network Configuration & Maintenance

When you rely on a wired network to run your business, it’s important to do maintenance to minimize downtime, avoid potential threats, and maximize the network’s ability to work for you. Here are a few best practices for network maintenance:

  • Regular comprehensive inspections of hardware and access points
  • Regular software updates for connected devices
  • Careful logging of each instance of maintenance or troubleshooting

Administration

After the network installation process comes the network administration process. This involves setting up the server by installing software and programs, creating folders and subfolders for those programs to live in, and registering and synchronizing each computer or other device with the overall network.

Management

Once you have a network installed, you need a system to manage it. Wired networks can be complicated and require a certain amount of tending and oversight to ensure they are operating at full capacity and providing the most benefits. 

Network management is the matrix of processes, protocols, tools, and network devices that human administrators can use to service the network and ensure it meets its objectives for the business it hosts.

The basic architecture of a network management system is based on two elements: a management station, which is the interface between the network and its human manager/s, and management agents, which are the network devices.

The Simple Network Monitoring Protocol, or SNMP, is the most common network management protocol. This protocol collects information from a network’s agents or other devices and funnels that information through the management station. This allows users and IT professionals to view this data and leverage it to troubleshoot problems or refine the network’s performance across these devices.

Read this article to learn more about the types of network installation.

Have a network installation project?

Main Benefits

Faster Data Speeds

Wired Ethernet networks are far faster than their Wi-Fi networks counterparts–especially fiber optic networks. 

Required Bandwidth

Wi-Fi networks struggle to transmit large files because the frequencies they send information on can only support so much data at a time.

However, in wired networks, this digital data travels through carefully arranged physical cables whose carrying capacity is much greater than the required bandwidth. It’s like the difference between a surface street full of stop lights and a highway that gives you a fast trip between point A and point B.

More Stable Than Wi-Fi Networks

Similarly, the physical nature of a wired system means it isn’t affected by many things that can down Wi-Fi networks, such as excess wind or snow, device overload, insufficient power and range, or radio interference.

Wired systems will continue to function at a high level during everything but a power outage–and even then, if you have a backup generator, they’ll still be able to keep your business connected.

Better Security

With a wired network, an individual needs physical access or a port or device on the network. This means you can protect your network with cyber security, such as firewalls, and security devices, such as gates and locks.

This contrasts with a Wi-Fi system, which runs on radio waves that an intruder could piggyback onto from a close enough range.

Read this article to learn more about the benefits of network installation.

Potential Risks

Unclear Requirements

Ensure that the scope of your network installation and configuration aligns with or surpasses your anticipated requirements.

This involves thoroughly assessing your current and future needs during planning phase, considering factors such as the number of devices to be connected, the volume of data traffic, the desired network speed, and any specific functionalities or security measures required.

By conducting a comprehensive evaluation and planning process, you can ensure that your network infrastructure is robust enough to support your business operations effectively and accommodate potential growth or changes in usage patterns over time.

Radio Frequency Interference

If you are using a Wi-Fi booster incorporated into your wired network for certain devices or cheaper cabling that has less robust RF shielding, a network installation needs to be preceded by a wireless site evaluation and security measures to cut or decrease RF interference on the network. 

Software & Application Interfaces

Properly installed software and applications on your server will prevent the various devices that use them from experiencing lag, dropped data, and other errors. When software and applications are installed correctly, they provide a stable foundation for data transmission and processing, minimizing the occurrence of performance issues such as lag, dropped data packets, and errors

Furthermore, effective software and application interfaces streamline communication between different components of your network, facilitating seamless data exchange and collaboration. This fosters productivity and efficiency within your organization, empowering users to access and utilize resources effectively without encountering unnecessary obstacles or delays.

Read this article to learn more about Network installation risks.

Network Devices

Wired networks rely on hardware to connect devices, rooms, and users. These are the essential network installation devices:

Servers

This device looks a lot like a desktop computer’s tower, but it handles much more complex tasks and does the heavy lifting in your network. It is where the bulk of the digital data and shared business information is stored. The server is essentially the “home base” for every computer in your network.

Servers can be cloud-based or local, with pros and cons for each. Which type you choose will ultimately depend on your business’s scope and needs.

Switches

Once all devices are verified through the router, the switch allows multiple devices to send information and communicate between themselves. A server sends data throughout the entire network; a switch simultaneously sends data to one device.

Firewalls

A firewall is an indispensable part of any network. This device protects your network from malicious data packs that may try to infiltrate it from the Internet. Some firewalls also have features to encrypt the Internet traffic on your network or automatically filter everything through a VPN.

Phones

Selecting phone models with Ethernet cords and plugs included can simplify operations and make phones part of your network. Your network will need a corresponding RJ45 jack for each phone.

By incorporating phones with Ethernet capabilities and ensuring the availability of RJ45 jacks, you can establish a cohesive and efficient network communication system. This not only simplifies operations but also enhances connectivity and facilitates seamless communication within your organization.

Computers

Computers are the main agents in a network and certainly the piece of equipment that gets the most use. Desktop computers are plugged directly into the network with their jack and cable so the network remains secure and experiences its optimal performance.

Read this article to learn more about Network installation devices.

Equipment

Network Faceplate Installation & Network Jack Installation

The faceplate is a flat plastic that creates a shield and tidy interface between the cabling and the Ethernet plug. Basic network faceplate installation involves a few steps that must be done carefully:

  • Turn off the breaker to cut power to the room where the installation is taking place.
  • Cut a hole in the wall or ceiling to fit the size of the faceplate.
  • Feed the cabling from behind through the hole.
  • Terminate each cable and strip the last two inches to expose the colored wires inside.
  • Unwind these wires and thread them into the Ethernet keystone connector, or jack, using a punch-down tool to make sure each wire is securely seated in the right slot.
  • Fit the jack to the faceplate so that the cables extend from the back and the open “key” portion of the jack faces forward through the faceplate, and screw it into place. 

Improper faceplate installation results in a crooked faceplate and a faulty network connection at worst, so it requires careful measuring and cutting.

Network Firewall Installation

A firewall protects the network by filtering traffic and preventing malware, bugs, and spyware from entering it.

Network firewalls can be hardware-based, as we’ve covered earlier, but they can also have corresponding software on the computers and other devices linked to the network. 

The best firewall installation will use hardware and software that covers an assortment of security issues, including:

  • potential threats detection
  • malware detection
  • data loss protection
  • DDoS defense
  • Antivirus
  • IP addresses
  • VPN

Network Video Recorder Installation

Network installation can also install network cabling in places that facilitate video recorder information. Cameras are highly effective security devices; synchronizing them with a network means that the footage they record is safely stored on the network server. Its managers can easily review, send, save, and delete camera footage from there.

Deployment

Deployment is the process of making software systems available for use. This process will look different for every network because every network is unique, with different devices, objectives, topologies, and layouts.

However, software deployment on a network will mean installing software or a software bundle and activating it to run across the whole system.

Depending on the networks and software involved, additional network configuration steps may be required during the planning phase and network design installation.

Network Installation Videos

Wiring an Office Network

This video walks through a simple network setup in a small doctor’s office. It introduces the standard layout for a wired network, from a central cable to a cabinet, to how the cabling is run through the drop ceiling and walls and how it terminates at the faceplate/node.

Hub, Switch, & Router Explained–What’s the Difference?

A hub, switch, and router help manage the traffic and data load on a network. While their purposes may sound very similar, each has a part to play in an active network. Learn how to differentiate and deploy each device in one short video.

What is a Server? Servers vs Desktops Explained

Is a network server the same thing as a desktop server? Both have memory storage capacity and processing power, but servers have capabilities and purposes greater than desktops. Learn how network servers are a step above regular desktops.

Office Network Setup! Network Upgrade!

A total rehab of an already-established office network is completed in less than five hours, thanks to some prep work ahead of time and a team of professional, experienced installers. Even one cable rack makes a big difference in the organization and optimization of an office network.

Small Office Network Rebuild

This rebuild relocates the uncontained cabling for an existing office network into a cabinet, mounting the network’s router and switch inside. In the process, the installer must track down the origin of some unlabeled wires and reorganize some cable layouts. It’s a great example of the results of an inexpert installation and what a professional network installation can accomplish.

What Ethernet Cable to Use?

Check out this video for a deeper dive into which type of Cat cable does what. It covers the different standards and specifications for each type of cable and puts each one through a practical test. It also discusses some of the best applications for each type of cable.

FAQs

How do you choose the right type of network?

To choose the right network, assess the required bandwidth, scalability, security needs, and budget. Consider wired or wireless options based on high reliability, performance, and future technology compatibility. 

Consult with experts if needed. Prioritize network solutions that meet current requirements while accommodating future growth and security concerns within budget constraints.

What are the basics of network configuration?

The basics of network configuration involve setting up and managing various components to ensure efficient data transmission and communication. 

Key steps include assigning IP addresses, configuring subnet masks, setting up routers and switches, establishing network protocols (such as TCP/IP), enabling DHCP for automatic IP addresses assignment, configuring DNS servers for domain name resolution, and implementing security measures like firewalls and encryption.

Regular monitoring and troubleshooting are essential for seamless connectivity and security measures.

Key Takeaways

As businesses grow, investing in the installation and configuration of a reliable network is essential for smooth operation. Businesses can enhance productivity and safeguard sensitive information by ensuring seamless connectivity and robust security measures.

If you’re ready to upgrade your network or need assistance with installation and configuration, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Our team of experts is here to help you optimize your network infrastructure for maximum efficiency and peace of mind. Contact us today to get started!

Have a network installation project?

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About Us
The Network Installers is a low voltage electrical contractor that provides data cabling, network installation, fiberoptic installation, and WIFI installation. We've been serving commercial customers since 2008 with exceptional quality, consistency, and professionalism.

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