The use of a structured cabling is a much underestimated platform. Without it, the services we take for granted would not exist. The ability to transfer voice, data and multimedia between your computers, servers and the Internet would not be possible without a robust structured cabling platform.
With Structured Cabling being such an important part of your IT network, it is vitally important that the infrastructure has been expertly installed and tested to ensure ultimate performance.
Some examples of what can sit on your structured cabling infrastructure:
- Network Printers
- IP CCTV
- Wireless Access Points
- Telephony Systems.
Structured cabling differences can be invisible to the casual observer. However, each new generation introduces copper pairs with tighter twists and more complex sheathing. Below are some of the data cable categories utilised by Cairn Solutions.
Whilst Cat5 and Cat5e cables are physically similar, Category 5e Ethernet adheres to the more stringent IEEE standards. “e” is for enhanced, meaning a lower-noise version where the potential for crosstalk is reduced. Crosstalk is interference that transfers from adjacent wires.
Cat5e is the most common type of cabling used for installs due to its ability to support Gigabit speeds at an afordable price. Whilst both Cat5 and Cat5e support a maximum frequency of up to 100MHz, Cat5e has completely replaced its predecessor. Gigabit Ethernet utilizes 4 data pairs in comparison to Fast Ethernet which utilizes 2 data pairs.
Further, Cat 5e supports speeds of up to 1000 Mbps. It’s flexible enough for small space installations though it is still used in large commercial installs. Of all the current cabling options, Cat5e is your least expensive option.
Cat6 wiring can support up to 10 Gbps and frequencies of up to 250 MHz. While Cat5e cable features 1.5-2 twists per cm, Cat6 cables are more tightly wound and feature 2 or more twists per cm. (The amount of twists per cm varies upon each cable manufacturer).
Cat6 cables also sport thicker sheaths in comparison to Cat5e. Though standard Ethernet supports distances of up to 100 meters, CAT6 cable only supports 37-55 meters (depending on crosstalk) when transmitting 10 Gbps speeds. Its thicker sheath protects against Near End Crosstalk (NEXT) and Alien Crosstalk (AXT).
Even though Cat6 and Cat6a cabling offer higher performance rates, many LANs still opt for CAT5e due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to support Gigabit speeds.
Cat6a supports bandwidth frequencies of up to 500 MHz, twice the amount of Cat6 cable, and can also support 10Gbps like its predecessor. However, unlike Cat6 cabling, Cat6a can support 10 Gigabit Ethernet at 100 meters.
Cat6a also features more robust sheathing which eliminates alien crosstalk (AXT) and improves upon the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). “A” = augmented. The stronger sheathing makes Cat6a cabling considerably thicker than Cat6, also making it less flexible to work with, and therefore, better suited for industrial environments at a lower price point.
Cat7 can also support 10 Gbps, but laboratory testing has successfully shown its ability to transmit up to 40 Gb at 50 meters and even 100 Gb at 15 meters. The newer “Class F” cabling can support frequencies of up to 600 Mhz. That said, Cat7 has not been approved as a cable standard for telecommunications.
Cat7 offers extensive shielding to reduce signal attenuation and is relatively stiff in comparison to previous generations of cabling. Both individual pairs are shielded, with an additional layer of shielding over the entire cable. The shielding needs to be grounded and Cat7 also requires special GigaGate45 (GG45) connectors to take full advantage of higher performance features.
All in all, Cat6a can perform just about the same as Cat7 but at a lower price point. Most of our AV and IP surveillance customers opt for Cat6a STP or Cat6a FTP. Both offer shielding from alien crosstalk and interference around high voltage lines.
Cat7 is suited for use in datacenters and large enterprise networks.