Dreary though the title may seem, cabling is absolutely essential for networking. Even wireless networking needs cabling at one point or another, and we had discussed the pros and cons of cables vs. cable-less. An article in the Server Management Magazine of March 2006 - Out of Sight - tackles the issue of cabling in greater depth than ever before seen, and explains with details the importance of good cabling for a network.
Generally, I use two rules for IT purchases – and these also apply to cabling: firstly, the more critical the item, the less price-depended the purchase; secondly, the harder to replace, the more meticulous the purchase. Network cables require even more attention; you may come to sorely regret buying the cheapest type available.
Rosemary McGlashon provides a number of insights into dealing with your cabling. This includes advice about next generation 10G BaseT cabling and connectors, which should be ready very soon and which will push copper cabling to its theoretical limits.
McGlashon also talks about fibre, which is admittedly the only potential successor to copper cabling, and is immune to radio interference or hacking. It does, however, require more expertise, and is more expensive initially. Although fibre has more room for growth, one should not bury copper too soon.
Finally, McGlashon gives advice many will agree with; the network is only as good as the weakest link, so get the best installer, the best cables, the best connectors, the best card, and don't skimp on the details. The cable may be out of sight, but it should not be out of mind.