Structured Cabling Systems: the Fact File

SCS: Structured cabling systems—or how Ethernet cabling dominated the world

Imagine getting a new desk lamp for your home office. You are anxious to try it out but, instead of simply plugging it into a nearby power outlet, you have to run an extension cord all the way down to the basement to the breaker panel. And then you have to do the same thing for a new printer or any other device requiring power.

Early IT/OT networks were connected much the same way—with patch cords—before structured cabling and its complementary standards were developed. Simply put, structured cabling is a cabling infrastructure that provides an organized approach to cabling that enables simple changes to an IT/OT network.

In addition to fixed connection points, like the fixed power cabling that runs to power outlets, the structured cabling standards define a series of subsystems that facilitate design, installation, operations, and maintenance of IT/OT networks.


Each of the major cabling standards groups—namely ISO/IEC, TIA and CENELEC—established standards for structured cabling in commercial offices, data centers, campuses and more. These standards help specify the types of cabling and components used in these environments, including:

The standardization of connectors, copper and fiber cabling performance categories and design guidelines has greatly simplified the planning and implementation of IT networks.

Often referred to as Ethernet cabling (not an entirely accurate synonym), the structured cabling concept has become so successful that other non-IT applications—such as building automation services, security and high-definition audio-visual—have also incorporated the same concept to ensure that end devices can be upgraded or changed out without having to change out the entire cabling infrastructure.

Things have come a long way since the structured cabling solutions started to take hold in the places we work and live, but their benefits through standardization have made them an integral part of our work and society.

Would you like to read offline?

Download a PDF version of this article to read again later.

Stay informed!

Subscribe to The Enterprise Source and get updates when new articles are posted.

History and principles of structured cabling

Applications of structured cabling

The technology behind structured cabling

The future of structured cabling

Further information

The benefit of structure: remembering life before SCS

We consider the many benefits brought by the shift away from multi-cable chaos to a more structured approach.


Additional resources


Structured Cabling