It’s Time To Start Wiring With CAT-6e
by Allen Spears – Chief Engineer
Our installers report that about 80-90% of new installations are being wired with CAT-6e now. So, if you’re still running CAT-5e, start changing over immediately. This means you’ll have to order CAT-6e, and you’ll need to purchase new RJ-45 connectors for CAT-6e as well.
Why? Well, broadband wiring is meant to last around 10 years or so, and will see at least five generations of equipment during that time. In the last 5 years, we have seen increased bandwidth usage by security cameras – both analog over baluns, and digital IP as well. Add in the fact that Internet bandwidth and speeds are increasing daily, with streaming video, multimedia and numerous other applications pushing the limits of CAT-5 beyond its’ capabilities.
Data rates have been doubling about every 18 months, and future trends are sure to accelerate that rate. There are already numerous applications that are running at 1 Gb/s, and new technology will make these types of data rates more commonplace in the next year or so. In short, CAT-6 will supersede CAT-5 very shortly.
CAT-6 instantly provides you with improved transmission performance, as well as superior immunity from noise. This means that any system utilizing CAT-6 will have fewer errors than CAT-5, resulting in fewer re-transmissions of corrupted data packets that were previously having some noise interference problems using CAT-5 cabling. The higher reliability that results from the improved insulation and expanded bandwidth standards of CAT-6e, is reason enough to start using this cabling now, but the realization that you will be faced with pulling out all the old CAT-5 in the very near future, certainly makes the case for running the best wire now.
The good news is that CAT-6 is totally backwards compatible with all the old CAT standards, while insuring that your customers will have plenty of growth room for a number of years.
As is the case with all twisted pair wiring, incorrect installations and terminations can effectively destroy most of the noise immunity inherent in twisted pair wiring. Examples of this are: 90 degree bends, too tight a radius around corners, and coiling excess cable. When terminating twisted pair cabling, don’t untwist the pairs any more than you have to when making connections or attaching connectors, and don’t strip back the outer jacket too far either. Also, if you will be using shielded CAT-6, be sure to ground one end of the foil to achieve the greater crosstalk immunity promised by this type.
Not all CAT-6e cabling is the same though. The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association, Inc.(CCCA), recently commissioned testing of a number of cable brands and found that almost none of them fully met all of the U.S. Minimum requirements for performance and safety, and further, that most failed to meet the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) minimum code requirements for low flame spread and/or smoke safety requirements for installation in commercial buildings, schools and multi-tenant residences. This has resulted in a warning from the CCCA that some of these inferior cable products could present a significant fire risk.
For this reason, Rugged CCTV issues strict guidelines to their cable manufacturer, and will not offer a cable that does not meet these stringent specs. Every container of cabling is tested and measured to insure that wire gauge (must be 23 gauge – not 24), insulation (controlled to +/- .0001″), and jacketing are all well within spec. Bandwidth capacity is tested to 550 Mhz. All of our cabling is UL listed as well. In other words, we don’t think it is enough to be able to meet the minimum standards, but to surpass them by a wide margin.
We also require a center spline to be used that adequately separates and controls pair position within the cable unit. This practice costs more than the cheaper cables made without this spline, but insures that performance is increased and crosstalk is reduced by twisting the pairs within the jacket, and holds each pair in that position throughout the run. Look for this feature in any CAT-6 that you buy.
CAT-6 connectors are another area where we demand quality. Some installers are saying that they are forcing the larger wires and insulation of CAT-6 into a CAT-5 connector. Not only is this a bad practice, but you must realize that the old connectors do not meet the guidelines of the new CAT-6 global standards, and your whole network bandwidth will be degraded to that of the cable or connector. So don’t use CAT-5 patch cables, jacks or connectors when installing CAT-6. Even though connectors for CAT-5 and CAT-6 may look alike, CAT-6 connectors have much better transmission performance. For example: at 100 Mhz, the crosstalk immunity of a CAT-5 connector is 43 decibels (dB), while a CAT-6 connector is 54dB. This means that the CAT-6e connector is approximately 12 times less noisy than a CAT-5e connector. Reason enough to make sure that everything involved in running CAT-6 adheres to the specs. By the way, once you have changed over to CAT-6 connectors, they can also be used for terminating CAT-5 as well, so you won’t need to stock two different types of connectors.
Call us at Rugged CCTV today, and get your CAT-6 stuff ordered. It’s all in stock in our warehouse, and can also be found in our Factory Outlet Store.