Picking the right category cable and connectivity for your specific application isn’t always as straightforward as it should be. Even if you know you need a Category 6A system, how do you wade through your choices and pick the right one?
A lot of your questions can be answered by thinking about your application and the type of performance you need in order to keep technology up and running.
Before you choose your Category 6A system, consider these factors:
- Will this system support a mission-critical application? (In other words: What happens if the systems connected to it go down due to cable or connectivity failure? How long can business run without them?) Applications such as network backbones and mission-critical data centers can’t afford any downtime. If they do go down, then the entire business goes down with it.
- Are high levels of Power over Ethernet (PoE) involved in this application? (Will the system support devices like thermal cameras with PTZ features, large display screens or LED lighting fixtures?) PoE relies on Category 6A 4-pair, balanced, twisted-pair cabling for efficient power delivery; it’s critical for 100W PoE installations. Less power is dissipated in a high-performance Category 6A cable, so more power is transferred to the device instead of being wasted.
- Is there “noise” present – is the application inside an industrial plant? (Is there EMI or RFI interference from nearby machinery or equipment?) This type of noise can impact cable and connectivity performance, data transmission and network traffic.
- Will the cable be installed near fluorescent lighting, ballasts or power cables? These factors are present in – and can introduce noise into – any type of environment (not just industrial plants). They also impact cable and connectivity performance, data transmission and network traffic.
- Are you facing a difficult installation environment (with tight bends, high levels of pulling force, etc.)? Not all Category 6A cable can withstand this type of installation. Depending on construction, some Category 6A cables may experience damage from too much pulling force, too much bending, etc.
- Do you need channel lengths that extend beyond 100 m? (Will devices be more than 100 m away from a switch?) If you have application-specific needs that call for extended reach beyond the 100 m standard, then Category 6A cabling and connectivity are the best choice.
If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, then you’re likely dealing with an application that calls for a high-performance Category 6A system that protects against failure, extends across long distances, supports high levels of power and guards against potential outside interference.
Now you know you need a reliable, high-performance Category 6A solution. Great! But what constitutes a “high-performance cable”?
Here are some features to look for to ensure this expected level of performance.
Category 6A systems available with Bonded-Pair construction offer enhanced protection against crosstalk, return loss and other performance issues.
The technology ensures that every mission-critical transmission link – as well as every powered link – is delivered, regardless of environmental conditions or abuse.
Factors such as bending and high-tension runs can cause traditional twisted pairs to pull loose from each other. If there are many distance fluctuations between the two copper conductors in a run of cable, then the pair’s electrical performance will suffer.
By bonding individual conductors along their longitudinal axis, however, extremely uniform spacing is guaranteed within each twisted pair to maintain consistent, reliable electrical performance without interference.
Bonded-Pair cables can be handled and manipulated without creating “gaps” between pairs, maintaining high levels of electrical performance. Even when stress is applied to cabling – pulling, coiling, bending, kinking or tugging – electrical properties don’t degrade.
Excellent Insertion Loss Performance
Insertion loss represents the ratio of received to inserted signal power at the end of a cable, dominated by cable attenuation: Poor insertion loss prevents proper data transmission. Expressed in decibels, insertion loss increases as cable temperature rises. When a cable’s temperature rises, so does insertion loss.
Look for a cable that has low insertion loss and plenty of headroom (which represents the difference between the cable’s measured insertion loss and the maximum insertion loss allowed per standards). The higher the margin or headroom, the better the cable performance. Cutting it close doesn’t leave room for cable temperatures to rise without experiencing negative impacts.
Superior Crosstalk Performance
Look for a Category 6A system that offers superior crosstalk performance compared to other options. (Simple crosstalk is caused by the electromagnetic fields of one signal affecting a signal in an adjacent circuit.)
Enhanced crosstalk performance means maximum uptime and ensures less data packet loss due to internal noise. You can identify systems with better crosstalk performance by looking at the system’s guaranteed performance for electrical parameters, such as NEXT and ACRF.
NEXT (near-end crosstalk) measures (in dB) the signal from one pair to another within a single link or channel. This measurement is taken at the end where the signal is sourced. The higher the NEXT, the less crosstalk received by the link or channel.
An acronym for attenuation crosstalk ratio far-end, ACRF is a calculation that subtracts insertion loss of the disturbing pair from the far-end crosstalk (FEXT) it induces in an adjacent pair. Look for a system and cable with a higher ACRF; the higher the calculation, the better the system performance.
Outstanding Alien Crosstalk Performance
Alien crosstalk occurs when one cable is surrounded by many others (in a cable bundle, for example). As bandwidth increases, so does the importance of controlling this type of interference to ensure proper data transmission. Noise sensitivity increases at higher frequencies, such as 500 MHz, which is the highest frequency of Category 6A cabling. In other words, alien crosstalk performance is extremely important for Category 6A systems.
Alien crosstalk is measured between each pair within the “disturber” cable to each pair within the “disturbed” cable (the one being impacted). Choose a system that offers higher power sum alien near-end crosstalk (PSANEXT) and power sum alien attenuation crosstalk ratio far-end (PSAACRF) performance to reduce crosstalk and channel noise.
Superior Signal-to-Noise Ratio
Your Category 6A system should offer an increased signal-to-noise ratio that can be identified by the previously mentioned parameters. Select a system that maintains signal power (excellent insertion loss performance) and minimizes noise (superior crosstalk performance), which combine to increase information capacity. During transmission, this ensures that the signal remains intact without being impacted by noise: The receiving end receives the same signal sent from the transmitting end.
Introducing the REVConnect 10GXS System
Demand for 10 Gb/s performance is growing as technology calls for higher speeds and more power. Belden’s REVConnect 10GXS System supports high-density, high-bandwidth applications and can exceed 100 m channel requirements in certain applications (maximum channel length of up to 185 m).
It features insertion loss performance with 8% headroom, offering industry-leading Category 6A system guaranteed performance parameters: insertion loss, NEXT, ACRF and PSAACRF.
To manage cable heat transfer, it incorporates EquiBlock™ Barrier Technology to achieve uniform heat flow dissipation while still maintaining insertion loss performance.
Common mission-critical applications that call for high-performance Category 6A cabling and connectivity like the REVConnect 10GXS System include:
- Data centers (end-of-row and middle-of-row deployment)
- Efficient 100W PoE transmission in large bundles
- Campus switching uplinks (network backbones)
- Manufacturing environments that can’t afford downtime
- Noisy environments like industrial and manufacturing plants
- High-end AV applications where performance is vital
The REVConnect 10GXS System includes connectivity components that feature Belden’s innovative, game-changing REVConnect Connectivity, which supports reliable, easy terminations using a single method for all Category 5e, 6 and 6A RJ45 connections and components. REVConnect reduces rework and retesting, is simple for entry-level technicians to learn quickly and adapts to emerging applications and IoT devices.
Want to learn more about the REVConnect 10GXS System and the level of reliability it brings to mission-critical applications? Visit www.belden.com/revconnect!
With a background in engineering, including a BS in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, Matt Baum has nearly a decade of professional experience in new product design. >Matt is a global product manager, leading the enterprise connectivity team in introducing functional, innovative and time-saving connectivity solutions. Outside of work, Matt is a die-hard Cincinnati Bengals fan, even through the down years.