One hindrance to transmitting data at high speed is the possibility that the signals traveling through the cable will be acted upon by some outside force. Although the designer of any cable, whether it's twisted-pair or coaxial, attempts to compensate for this, external forces are beyond the cable designer's control. All electrical devices, including cables with data flowing through them, generate EMI. Low-power devices and cables supporting low-bandwidth applications do not generate enough of an electromagnetic field to make a difference. In addition, some equipment generates radio-frequency interference; you may notice this if you live near a TV or radio antenna and you use a cordless phone.
Devices and cables that use a lot of electricity can generate EMI that can interfere with data transmission. Consequently, cables should be placed in areas away from these devices.
- Heating and air-conditioning equipment
- Fluorescent lights
- Laser printers
- Electrical wiring
- Some medical equipment
Talk about electromagnetic interference! An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine, which is used to look inside the body without surgery or x-rays, can erase the magnetic strip on a credit card from 10′ away.
When running cabling in a building, do so a few feet away from these devices. Never install data cabling in the same conduit as electrical wiring.
In some cases, even certain types of businesses and environments have high levels of interference, including airports, hospitals, military installations, and power plants. If you install cabling in such an environment, consider using cables that are properly shielded, or use fiber-optic cable.