As information demands increase, data centers are becoming more congested with more active equipment and cable. Because of their smaller diameter, patch cords with 28 AWG conductors have become widely used in data center applications. But these patch cords offer another use as well: in enterprise networks. In fact, 28 AWG patch cables can be used in all applications that require twisted-pair cabling.

In addition to being used for end-of-row (EoR) and top-of-rack (ToR) installations for data center interconnects, 28 AWG patch cords can improve airflow and reduce pathway congestion in high-density telecom and equipment rooms. Other benefits of smaller-diameter patch cords include:

  • Availability in Category 6 and Category 6A versions for 1G and 10G applications
  • Ability to achieve a tight bend radius
  • Easier access for maintenance
  • Less downtime due to faster troubleshooting
  • Improved ability to deploy in high-density environments

In comparing 28 AWG patch cords to 24 AWG patch cords, it’s easy to see how much space can be saved. The table below compares outside diameter (OD) of these two gauges.

In each case, the 28 AWG patch cable is at least 50% smaller in diameter than its 24 AWG counterpart.

Length Possibilities with 28 AWG

In general, a cable with a larger OD has less insertion loss than a cable with a smaller OD (the higher the gauge, the smaller the wire). Because insertion loss levels are higher in smaller-diameter patch cords, such as those with 28 AWG conductors, additional de-rating is necessary. The de-rating factor for a 28 AWG patch cord is 95%, meaning that it’s 95% more “lossy” than a horizontal cable of the same length.In the case of a 90 m permanent link, the longest channel possible would be 96m (see the chart below, which maps out the longest possible 28 AWG patch cord lengths that can be combined with different permanent link lengths). 

Small OD Patch CordsAt this time, Belden is working closely with other industry organizations and companies to help 28 AWG become recognized in ANSI/TIA standards. A revision of ANSI/TIA 568-C.2 is currently under way, and we hope to see 28 AWG patch cords included there.

TIA channels r228 AWG Patch Cable and PoE

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is also possible with 28 AWG patch cords, although the industry currently varies in terms of recommending wattages that should be used.Today, PoE Type 2 can be supported with 28 AWG patch cords; higher wattages may be included in this list in the future. As those changes are made, we will keep you updated.Learn more about Belden’s small-diameter 28 AWG Category 6 and Category 6A patch cords. They’re available in many standard lengths, and can also be customized in one-foot increments. Compared to 24 AWG patch cords, they offer more than a 50% reduction in OD, and 40% reduction in weight. They also meet ANSI/TIA standards in channels up to 96 m.



Category 6

Category 6A

28 AWG

0.150 inches OD

0.185 inches OD

24 AWG

0.366 inches OD

0.411 inches OD

cant ignore cat 6a banner