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LAN Cabling: Go Beyond Standards to Improve Information Capacity

Posted by: Ron Tellas on April 14, 2017

Information capacity blog

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Cabling standards exist for a reason – they help you get the most out of your networks. But many cabling solutions are designed to perform beyond what the standards specify.

When standards for performance are set by groups like the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO/IEC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), why go beyond what they recommend? Because cable performance that goes beyond standards can lead to a more reliable LAN connection for enterprises.

 

Bandwidth and Information Capacity

The standards spell out specifications for insertion loss and background noise levels (return loss, near-end crosstalk [NEXT], etc.). If your cable stays within the recommended parameters, the cabling system will perform as intended in terms of signal to noise ratio, or information capacity.  For cabling, this is referred to as bandwidth.

Information capacity indicates the ability for a cable to transmit data through the channel (which includes cable and connectors). It can also be referred to as the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), expressed in decibels (dB).

Cabling systems designed and manufactured to perform beyond these standards specifications, however, can offer increased bandwidth performance, which leads to increased information capacity. As discovered years ago, there is a fundamental relationship between bandwidth and information capacity.

Noise Immunity diagram

 

What Impacts Information Capacity?

As you can see in the diagram above, information capacity performance is bounded at the top by insertion loss and at the bottom by external or internal noise.

What reduces a cable’s information capacity?

  • Increased external noise caused by a cable being positioned near power cables, ballasts or fluorescent lamps, as well as noise coupling from other cables
  • Increased insertion loss caused by high temperatures, poor balance or poor return loss
  • Increased internal noise caused by return loss, NEXT, far-end crosstalk (FEXT), etc. that exceeds standards

When cable performance offers high signal power and high noise immunity, the area that falls within those two lines in the diagram above gets bigger – and that increase represents an increase in the cable’s information capacity.

Excellent return loss improves cable information capacity by reducing the amount of work the physical layer inside your equipment (PHY) must put forth to use compute power from the digital signal processor to keep connection links up and running.

This reduced reliance on digital signal processing can improve LAN reliability, leading to less reliance on PHY echo cancellation algorithms. (Echo cancellation is the process of preventing signal echo from being created, or removing signal echo when it is present.)

When a signal is applied to cabling, it is ideally only transmitted to the far end, traveling in one direction. Part of the signal, however, can be reflected back toward the transmitter due to mismatches among cables and connectors. The amount of signal being reflected back is characterized by return loss.

Lower NEXT levels can also lead to less reliance on digital signal processing of the PHY. And less reliance on the computational power of the PHY means a more reliable data transmission, more channel uptime and lower power consumption.

 

Where Belden Fits In

Belden’s cable provides superior performance because its return loss extends beyond what the standards require. Using Belden cabling means that digital signal processing doesn’t have to be responsible for echo cancellation, reducing reliance on the PHY.

Learn more about our cabling solutions for enterprise networks, which are designed to maximize performance and longevity, maintain uptime and prepare your organization for the future.

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