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Tech Corner

  Gigabit Ethernet On UTP
rj45 plug

Gigabit Ethernet On UTP

There is much discussion lately about Gigabit Ethernet and the related premises wiring components.  It seems that everyone is advertising "Gigabit Ready" products and Giga-This and Giga- That.  All of the hype obscures an important simple fact: Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Base-T) was designed to run on Cat 5 cable. That's right, plain old Cat 5.

Now, having said that, we would never recommend that anyone should install plain old Cat 5 in a new premises wiring system.  As a matter of fact you would probably have trouble finding components that aren't at least Cat 5e compliant.  But it's important to remember that despite all the talk about cables that are rated at 350/400/500/550 Mhz., Gigabit Ethernet will technically run on 100 Mhz Cat 5 cable and components.

These faster networking protocols will definitely strain an existing install that was rated at Cat 5. Any deviation from the standard and the specified installation procedures such as cable length, bend radius, pair separation at the termination point and, very importantly, inferior patch cables, can have a significant impact on your network performance.  Deviations that made no difference at 10 or even 100 Mbps can be critical at 1000 Mbps. This is why your cabling system should be rated at a higher category than the bare minimum required.

Today, cables and related components are available in more grade categories than the industry standards specify.  You can choose from Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 5e+, Cat 6 and yes, even Cat 6+.  While there is plenty of hype and confusion surrounding these implied categories, the fact is that you can create a cabling system that is better than the existing and proposed standards and you can choose how much better.

Our recommendation is that if you are planning a new installation you should be looking at a minimum of Cat 5e.  If you have plans for Gigabit Ethernet you should be looking at a minimum of Cat 5e+ and if you want to have a state of the art wiring system that is ready for the speeds of the future, move up to the systems that are being designed to meet the proposed Cat 6 Draft 7 and beyond.

If you have an existing cabling system that is Cat 5 or Cat 5e rated and you want to optimize it's performance for high speed networking, you can replace the existing patch cords with better ones.  It has been proven that at higher frequencies the patch cord becomes a very important component. Control Cable, in partnership with Quabbin Wire and Cable manufactures DataMax 6 Patch Cords.  These patch cords exceed the performance criteria in the proposed Cat 6 Draft 7.  By simply replacing the patch cords you can measurably improve your cabling system's ability to carry high speed data.

If you are planning a new cabling system infrastructure or are looking to get the most out of your old one, count on Control Cable for the products and support to do the job right.




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