Cable Concepts Blog

Copper vs. Fiber Optic Cables

When assessing which type of network cable you want to install, which type should you go with?

Copper has been used in electrical wiring since the invention of the electromagnet and the telegraph  in the 1820s.

Copper wire is used in power generation, power transmission, power distribution, telecommunications , electronics circuitry, and countless types of electrical equipment.

Copper has the advantage of being less expensive to connect network devices and the fact that it already exists in many places.

1. Fiber optic transmission is faster.

Fiber optic versus copper wire transmission can be boiled down to the speed of photons versus the speed of electrons. While fiber optic cables don’t travel at the speed of light, they come very close—only about 31 percent slower.


2. Fiber optic transmission results in less attenuation.

When traveling over a long distance, fiber optic cables experience less signal loss than copper cabling. This is called low attenuation. Copper cables can only transmit information up to 9,328 ft due to power loss, whereas fiber cables can travel between 984.2 ft to 24.8 miles.


3. Fiber optic cables are impervious to electromagnetic interference (EMI).

Copper wires, if not properly installed, will produce electromagnetic currents that can interfere with other wires and wreak havoc on a network. Fiber optic cables, unlike copper cables, do not conduct electricity.


4. Light cannot catch on fire.

An added benefit of fiber optic cables is that they are not a fire hazard. This can also be attributed to the same reason that the cables do not produce EMI—there is no electric current traveling through the core.


5. Fiber optic cables do not break as easily.

This means that you will not have to worry about replacing them as frequently as copper wires. Even though the fiber is made of glass, copper wires are more prone to damage than fiber optic cables are.

Goodwill Industries of North Carolina: New Credit Card Machine Installation

Cable Concepts is pleased to be in the process of installing credit card machines for 41 Goodwill locations across North Carolina. Previously, Goodwill locations in our area only accepted checks and cash payment for goods.  Our work will consist of running two single drops to cash registers to connect the new credit card machines. We are very excited to be a part of this update.

Sound Masking vs. Noise Cancellation

Sound masking (or “white noise”) is often confused with sound cancellation. They are not the same thing, though this is a common mistake.  When we speak to customers, they often think of sound masking as if it were something like the “Cone of Silence” in the old Get Smart TV series.  In the TV series, whenever someone was speaking in “the cone of silence,” the theory was that no one outside the cone could hear it very well.  Unfortunately, it never really worked – with comical results!

Sound cancellation – or “active noise control” – electronically alters an incoming sound wave to minimize or eliminate it altogether. With sound

cancellation the sound wave is picked up by a microphone, analyzed by a microprocessor, and then a speaker placed in the path of the sound wave broadcasts a mirror image (exact opposite) frequency, thus flattening out the wave and canceling out much or all of the sound. This has proven quite effective in small, controlled environments where there are few frequencies to “mirror” (such as wearing noise-canceling headphones on an airplane), but it’s not practical for open office areas in part because the processors necessary to analyze and mask so many frequencies would be prohibitively expensive.

Sound masking, on the other hand, works on the principle that when background noise is added to an environment, speech is less intelligible. In technical terms, the “Articulation Index” – a measurement of how intelligible speech is – has been lowered by this change in the signal-to-noise ratio. The “signal” would be, for example, the person speaking, and the “noise” would be the sound masking. A high signal-to-noise ratio means that speech is very intelligible – an amphitheater would have a very high Articulation Index, for example. Based on this principle, scientists and engineers realized that you don’t have to actually stop the sound waves from a speaker’s voice in order to obtain speech privacy, you just have to make the speaker’s words unintelligible.

If I can see and hear you but I can’t understand the words that you’re saying, we have effectively established speech privacy.

This is what a “white noise” system does to mask sound – it basically “fills in” the sound spectrum around you with barely perceptible “unstructured” noise (“structured” noise would be sounds such as speech or music that have recognizable patterns and convey information). Your brain will tune out unstructured noise as it searches for the structured variety. You’ve experienced this kind of thing before. When you turn on your computer, you hear the cooling fan begin to spin. However, your mind quickly filters out this unstructured sound and it becomes effectively “invisible.” The goal of any speech privacy system is to add enough sound to an area to cover up speech, yet still be quiet enough to be almost imperceptible. Good, well-tuned, quality sound masking systems will produce sound that your mind naturally tunes out. The more uniformly the sound masking system accomplishes this throughout the treated area, the more “invisible” the sound becomes.

Zip Ties Vs. Velcro

There has been much debate whether it is better to use zip ties or Velcro for structured cabling projects. Each have the capacity to pull together attractive cabling projects. They both have their individual strengths and positive attributes, but is one, in fact, superior to the other? Let’s explore.

Zip Ties:

To begin: the lightweight, sturdy zip tie. Zip ties are a perennial favorite among those in the structured cabling world. Invented in 1958, zip ties were first intended for airplane wire harnesses, but now we’ve expanded their usages and applications. In modern times, zip ties now come in a myriad of sizes, colors, and categories. Due to this, along with their affordability and long-lasting strength, zip ties remain the primary choice among cabling professionals. More advantages of the zip tie include: they come in plenum-rated cable tie versions, which are allotted for use in electrical and HVAC functions. There is also a great zip tie for the more harsh settings, Tefzel® cable tie zip ties. These unique zip ties are resistant to radiation, ultraviolet light, corrosive chemicals, and intense temperatures. Importantly, zip ties consistently demonstrate their durability plus their ability to fit through small holes for wiring jobs and their space conservation.


Next up we have Velcro, or hook and loop fasteners. First developed by Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral, when, in 1941, while taking a walk with his dog, noticed that burdock seeds would cling to his coat and dog. This is what inspired him to make his first touch fastener, which he then patented in 1955. He refined his product for commercial introduction beginning in the late 1950s. Of course, Velcro wasn’t used for cabling purposes at first. At its start, Velcro was intended to be the “zipperless zipper” in the fashion and textile industry. Today, Velcro is used in many industries, including those that do structured cabling. More and more, Velcro straps are gaining popularity, with some technicians using them exclusively. Velcro wraps are preferred by many due to their ability to be used and reused time and time again. Another advantage of Velcro is that it doesn’t require scissors or a cable tie removal tool to remove it. Despite the fact that Velcro cable ties are by and large more costly than zip ties, many consider the extra cost worth it because they are able to reuse it. Velcro straps come in a bunch of sizes, plus large continuous rolls, which can be cut and customized to fit the length requirements for the job at hand. Overall, Velcro straps are thought to have the advantage when dealing with extremely large bundles.

It should be noted that many people select a combination of zip ties and Velcro for cable management. In general, Velcro straps are used for temporary jobs and/or large bundles, and zip ties are best for permanent or semi-permanent jobs.

The Take-Away:

Given their unique strengths and weaknesses, it is difficult to make a definitive call on which is best. Perhaps we can conclude that each have their place in a cable technician’s arsenal, depending on the job.

New RTP Credit Union Corporate Headquarters and Branch Location in Durham, NC

Cable Concepts recently wired the new RTP Credit Union Corporate Headquarters with an additional branch location in the same building. We ran category 6 structured cabling for computers, phones, teller locations, access points, and printers. We installed data racks and cable management for the server room. We also pulled cables for the elevator phone, fire alarms, and IP security cameras throughout the facility. Finally, we mounted TVs and cabled the conference room tables for phones.

We are proud of the work we have done at RTP Credit Union and look forward to doing more work for them in the future.

Many thanks to our stellar techs!





USA Baseball Job

Cable Concepts recently ran Cat 6 structured cabling drops for phone and computers at USA Baseball, headquartered in Research Triangle Park. They required extra connectivity because they are adding staff for the upcoming baseball season, which starts next week. A few fun facts about USA Baseball: it was founded in 1978, and is the governing body for amateur baseball in the United States of America. It is a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and organizes the United States national baseball team. Our techs enjoyed doing this job for them as well as meeting the great staff.


Cal Ripken’s Jersey

Baseball Trophies

Baseball Trophies

Carolina Hurricanes – Server Room Cleanup

Cable Concepts recently performed a server room overhaul for Raleigh’s Carolina Hurricanes, whose home is the PNC Arena. The new owners of the Carolina Hurricanes were making improvements and updates to existing facilities and hired Cable Concepts to cleanup and organize their server room.  The project included re-running fiber terminations, re-terminating Category 6 patch panels and patch cables, cross-connecting voice connections, and installing vertical and horizontal cable management to the server racks. We also re-patched in all computers, phones, printers, and fiber connections to switches and routers and brought 24 remote Telco rooms back online.

It was a pleasure to make Carolina Hurricane’s server room neater and more organized!






The Bone and Joint Surgery Clinic

Cable Concepts is pleased to have cabled the The Bone and Joint Surgery Clinic in Raleigh, NC this past month. We pulled Category 6 structured cabling to connect printers, phones, computers, TVs, MRIs, and X-ray machines and terminated Category 6 patch panels in the server room. Our techs also installed a 7ft. rack with cable management and used a fiber optic backbone to connect an MRI room on a different floor to the server room. Then, we extended the Spectrum demark from the building’s telco room to the new data rack.

We enjoyed doing work for The Bone and Joint Surgery Clinic and hope to do more for them in the future.

Thanks to our techs for their hard work and dedication to this project!


Server Room: Before

Server Room: After

Server Room: After (close-up)


Pendo New Location

Cable Concepts has recently been wiring the new location for Pendo in Downtown Raleigh. The company will be taking over 3 floors in the Wells Fargo Capitol Center on Fayetteville Street, which will have a capacity of 400 people once completed.

We ran OM3 10 gig fiber to connect each floor to the server room. Our techs also ran Cat 6 structured cable to wire computers, printers, phones, and wireless access points. The job is estimated to be completed around February of 2018.













We are looking forward to finishing the cabling for this exciting move for Pendo!

Awesome job by our techs! Thanks, guys!

Metabolon New Expansion RTP/Morrisville

Cable Concepts recently wired the expansion for Metabolon in the RTP/Morrisville area.  We ran category 6 structured cabling and installed racks and cable management in the new IDF. We installed cell phone boosters in the new wing for the executive offices, board rooms, conference rooms, and support staff areas. Our techs also connected the newly wired space to the existing server room through an OM3 10 gig fiber back bone. For wireless connectivity, we ran cables and installed access points.

We are glad to have worked with Metabolon and are looking forward to working with them in the future.