Why IoT and MPTL (Direct Connect) Go So Well Together
Traditionally, structured cabling standards have required a horizontal cable in a twisted-pair link segment to be terminated to an equipment outlet or patch panel. This is how wired connections to most network devices in office areas or equipment rooms – like servers, computers and printers – have been connected. It works, and it’s long been an accepted procedure in the IT world that has served us well – until now.
As IoT and smart buildings continue to converge, more devices are being installed outside the traditional method, such as in areas above the ceiling or on the wall. Some good examples of this include wireless access points, PoE LED lighting systems, AV displays (SDVoE or HDBaseT) and surveillance cameras. Today, these devices are designed with built-in RJ45 ports.
As technology changes, so does the way we install these devices. As we’ve shared a few times in recent blogs, TIA recently approved a new topology known as “modular plug terminated link” (MPTL), or what we like to call “direct connect.” This topology allows the horizontal cable to be terminated on one end to an RJ45 plug that connects directly to a device.
So what benefits does direct connect offer? Several!
1. Direct Connect Simplifies Installation
First, it eliminates the outlet, jack and patch cord – so it requires fewer components for installation. You no longer have to terminate cable to outlets, install a faceplate or connect a patch cord. This reduces overall installation costs and means that devices can be installed faster.
2. Direct Connect Supports Above-Ceiling Applications
It simplifies device installation in above-ceiling applications where faceplate installation isn’t practical – or where outlets, jacks and patch cords must be plenum rated. Instead, you can use a custom-length, plenum-rated cable with plenum-rated plug to connect directly to the end device you’re installing.
3. Direct Connect with a FlexPlug is Safer
When patch cords are left exposed, they can be disconnected (whether on accident or on purpose). It’s as simple as pulling the cord out of the device. This could create a security concern, especially if devices like surveillance cameras or PoE LED lighting fixtures are disconnected.
Using direct connect with a FlexPlug allows all connections to be out of sight in the ceiling or within the device, making it more difficult to disconnect the device.
4. Direct Connect Looks Better
By eliminating outlets and patch cords, you create a cleaner, neater appearance. This may not be a factor to consider in some applications, but in venues like hospitality environments and entertainment settings, employees and guests will no longer be able to see cords stretching from a device to an outlet.
Testing for MPTL/Direct Connect
This topology isn’t necessarily a new idea. Belden supports this topology with permanent link testing using the AX104552 test coupler. Now, the rest of the industry agrees that this is a good idea. The ANSI/TIA-568.2-D standard includes the MPTL configuration, as well as a test procedure that includes the final plug connection at the far end. This allows you to verify the performance of the entire connection.
Belden’s REVConnect Connectivity System works well for direct connect. Supporting the MPTL topology, REVConnect uses a single termination process for every application. It offers a complete connectivity solution for Category 5e, 6 and 6A shielded and unshielded cable, allowing you to switch from a jack to a plug – or vice versa – without having to re-terminate.