Smart Building

28 AWG Patch Cabling—Yes or No?

Ron Tellas

As information demands increase, data centers are becoming more congested with more active equipment and cable. With a smaller diameter, patch cords with 28 AWG conductors have become widely used in data center applications however, they offer an additional use for enterprise networks. In fact, 28 AWG patch cables can be used in all applications that require twisted-pair cabling.



In addition to 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. Additional benefits of smaller-diameter patch cords include:


  • Available for CAT 6/6A versions for 1G & 10G applications
  • Accommodate tight bend radius
  • Easy maintenance access
  • Less downtime with faster troubleshooting
  • Easier deployment in high-density environments


When comparing 28 AWG vs 24 AWG patch cords, space savings are immediately obvious (the table below compares outside diameter (OD) for these two gauges). In each case, the 28 AWG patch cable is at least 50% smaller in diameter than its 24 AWG counterpart.


28 AWG Length Possibilities

Typically, cables with a larger OD have less insertion loss than cables with a smaller OD (the higher the gauge, the smaller the wire). Because insertion loss levels are higher in smaller-diameter patch cords—including those with 28 AWG conductors—additional de-rating is necessary. The de-rating factor for a 28 AWG patch cord is 95%, meaning it’s 95% more “lossy” than a horizontal cable of the same length. In the case of a 90m permanent link, the longest channel possible would be 96m (refer to chart below mapping longest possible 28 AWG patch cord lengths combined with various permanent link lengths)


At this time, Belden is working closely with industry organizations and companies to support 28 AWG being 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.


28 AWG Patch Cable & PoE


Power over Ethernet (PoE) is possible with 28 AWG patch cords, although the industry currently varies in terms of wattage recommendations. Today, PoE Type 2 can be supported with 28 AWG patch cords—higher wattages may be included in the future. As changes are made, we will share updates. Learn more about Belden’s small-diameter 28 AWG Category 6/6A patch cords available in a variety of standard lengths and customizable in one-foot increments. Compared to 24 AWG patch cords, they offer more than a 50% reduction in OD and 40% reduction in weight and 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