Cabling Nightmare?

June 8, 2009 at 13:37:36
Specs: Windows XP
I started an internship at a small law firm while they were in the middle of moving in. When I walked in I saw what looked to me as a networking / cable management nightmare. I have a bit of technical know-how but not really in wiring a network. As such, I'm trying to figure out if some major problems the office is having with phone and internet are related.

So far the “symptoms” are:
-intermittent internet speeds and multiple disconnects
-intermittent phone static that sometimes are on a single line, sometimes on all lines
-dropped calls
-calls that simply don’t go through or don’t come through

The office is arranged in somewhat of a square equally divided into 4 squares with around 12x12 ft. for each office for a total outer length of say 24x24ft. The system is set up as a voice over IP connection & regular internet all in one. From the looks of it (and a discussion with the company president – It’s a small locally owned company) they pipe in the internet wirelessly to some sort of router shared between multiple different offices other than our own as well as an apartment complex, then give us a share of it as well. They told me that “honestly we were having some bandwidth issues because our router was 900mhz and could only handle around 2MB/s” but that “we have put in a new router that should give about 34MB/s bandwidth”.

This alone seemed that it could cause problems, especially during peak operation, but I’ll continue anyways. To run phones and internet to the offices it seemed like on average about 50-60 feet of cable was used to traverse a distance of 15ft (basically it was just thrown up there). Is this enough length where there may be signal loss/degradation? Also they seem to use cat5e cables (2 separate ones per office) to connect both the office phones and internet, but the phones operate off regular telephone cords. To solve this problem it looks like they took an old wall mounted telephone jack (I’m talking about the faceplate and everything), and rigged 1 of the cat5e cables to it, then put it back into the ceiling. I can’t really tell if the remaining wires are terminated right, but there’s a good 4-8 inches of wiring that’s out of the outer cat5e cabling (which again I thought led to signal degradation, especially since they aren’t twisted). Will this 4-8 inches make a noticeable difference (the technician told me it wouldn’t impact our phones…was he bulls**ting me or being truthful?)

Overall it definitely looks sub-par, with single holes drilled into walls instead of faceplates, cable runners (whatever the name is for the things you put multiple strands of wiring in and attach to the wall/ceiling) being attached to walls with tape, which predictably have come off the walls. So far I have the office convinced to drop this company, but I just want to make sure I made the right call (hopefully I didn’t over-react).

After a talk with the phone company president he’s trying to convince the office to stay with them, and has sent technicians over to properly secure the cable runners and run tests. Still looks as if they will lose us as a customer though.

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June 8, 2009 at 15:28:53
"they pipe in the internet wirelessly to some sort of router shared between multiple different offices other than our own as well as an apartment complex, then give us a share of it as well."

That's sounds like your problem. From where is the connection originating? If you have a wireless router or other access point picking up the signal from some remote location, how can they expect a decent signal & bandwidth?

How do you know when a politician is lying? His mouth is moving.

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June 9, 2009 at 10:08:24 was a bit of a nightmare which taught the office staff that cheaper can sometimes wind up costing more in the end...we're switching providers at the end of the week and they'll run tests and rewire where needed

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