Smart Building

Common HDBaseT Questions Answered

Bob Ferguson

HDBaseT has become the leading solution for delivering ultra-high-definition (UHD) 4K video and audio, USB 2.0, 100 MB Ethernet, control and 100W on a single cable. This is what the HDBaseT Alliance refers to as the “5Play™ feature set.” It’s a huge benefit to have one cable that supports all these applications up to 330 ft for AV installations.

How HDBaseT Works with HDMI

The HDMI connector has become the industry standard for AV applications. It’s estimated that there are more than 4 billion HDMI devices currently in use. The HDMI 1.4 specification requires bandwidth of almost 10 Gbps. The HDMI 2.0 specification requires 18 Gbps and the new HDMI 2.1 specification requires 48 Gbps. It’s clear that we’re seeing a rapid increase in bandwidth demand.


HDMI cables, however, have some distance limitations. Anything longer than 15 ft. should have a chip to directionally boost the signal. Anything longer than 50 ft. should be over an active optical connection (AOC). Note—Cable distances supported for the newest 2.1 specification are still unclear because products are not available yet. In addition to distance limitations, HDMI can be difficult to install because the cables aren’t typically field terminated. These limitations cause real problems, especially in commercial installations.


This is where HDBaseT steps in. It can take the HDMI input (along with other 5Play technology signals) and transport it 330 ft. over a field-terminable, 4-pair twisted copper cable. Not only can you achieve longer distances but, with the use of a switch, you can use multiple inputs and outputs.


Although HDBaseT was originally intended to work with standard category cabling, there have been some issues. As a result, we recommend that you choose a cable designed for the HDBaseT system you’re implementing.


The Best Cabling System for HDBaseT

Belden has performed several cabling tests to analyze bundling, power and 4K performance among different cabling systems. These tests have identified the cabling that can reliably support HDBaseT technology.


During testing, key parameters were identified in HDBaseT signal and design. This resulted in Belden’s creation of the industry’s first cable designed specifically for HDBaseT 4K video. These key electrical parameters are increased over standard category cable while still maintaining a cable that’s easy to install due to size and flexibility.


This new cable is specifically made to support the increased requirements of 4K signals in the commercial environment; however, there are still a large number of installations that only require a 1080p signal to be supported. Here, you have several cable choices. Our testing shows that it’s still critical to eliminate electrical noise outside the cable (alien crosstalk) for the HDBaseT signal.


This can be done with Category F/UTP (foil over unshielded twisted pairs), which is often referred to as “shielded category cable.” In addition, Belden also offers a standard Category 6A UTP cable, which has enough alien crosstalk elimination built in to support a 1080p signal without the potential for a grounding issues. Using higher-category cable comes with other benefits including superior power handling and the ability to support other signals.


Belden has also unveiled the industry’s first 25-year HDBaseT Warranty. It ensures that the installed cabling system will be free of defects for 25 years, and includes a Lifetime Application Assurance Program, which covers system performance and labor.


One other note of interest: While the HDBaseT Alliance is not part of the IEEE Ethernet standard, it has submitted a proposal to become its own IEEE standard (p1911). As the HDBaseT Alliance becomes part of this group, we anticipate it to become more widely adopted.