Technology is fast evolving and you need to implement a cabling infrastructure that will match up to your company’s requirements. Choosing the best solution for your organization today will help save money and time in the future. Nevertheless, keep in mind that your network infrastructure should serve you well for 10 years, and modest cabling is capable of supporting up to three generations of connected electronic devices.
In the past, 3G and 4G Ethernet networks have served well, but in this advanced digital era, you need something that can cope with the greater data capacity demand. One solution is in the 10G network, where 10 gigabits per second networks are expected to connect to each other, data centers and the Internet. Fortunately, Category 6A (Cat6a) cables allow for 10G transmission and are the preferred choice for structured cabling networks.
If you are one of the many business managers with a 10G network in place, you may benefit from advice on selecting the best Cat6A cables for your infrastructure. Below are tips and information that can help you choose the right cable.
Unshielded, Twisted or Foiled, or Shielded and Foiled Twisted Pair
There are currently three types of Category 6a cables – Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP), Shielded Twisted or Foiled Twisted Pair (S/UTP or F/UTP), and Shielded and Foiled Twisted Pair (SFTP). All these types of capable have support 10G networks up to 100 meters for the fastest Ethernet connection.
The UTP Ethernet cable features pairs of twisted pairs of wires and each of them is individually shielded using a metal foil, which increases the outer diameter of the cable. Cross talk between pairs is reduce by the individual foil shields causing long lays that are easy to untwist, shortening termination time. These cables offer you a lower DC resistance, providing better support for PoE applications.
F/UTP and S/UTP cables feature unshielded pairs that are shielded by a single metal foil that helps keep out electrical noise from interfering. Crosstalk between the pairs is controlled by lay-length of your connection. Due to the mechanism, the cable offers you better heat dissipation, minimizing temperature increase in PoE energized bundle cables.
SFTP is a combination of F/UTP and S/UTP where a foil shields around individual twisted wires, providing the highest protection level from interference. The double shielding on these cables allows for stable and fastest data transmission in 10G networks. SFTP is a good choice if your 10G network is situated in an industrial environment.
Current Network Infrastructure
As you select the best cable type for your business, you also need to take into consideration whether your business owns or rents the building. If the building is yours, the next thing you need is to figure the primary usage of your 10G network and what network infrastructural changes that may be needed. If leasing, determine how long you plan to stay at the location.
Available Space in the Office
Cat6a cables operate at 500MHz, which double the frequency that is found on Cat6 cables. Consecutively, Cat6a cables are larger in order to control the noise and crosstalk generated by the higher frequencies.
This means that Cat6a are significantly larger than their predecessors, meaning that fewer cables will be able to fit in the cable conduit or tray – a big concern when retrofitting older installations. Fortunately, new Cat6a cables that are only 15 percent bigger than Cat6 are available on the market today.
Due to the larger size of Cat6a cables, you will also realize that they require a larger bend radius during routing, especially if they will be carried inside wall cavities. This means that you need to either retrofit your current cabling infrastructure or install a new one.
Longer Installation Period
As established, Cat6a cables are significantly larger and thicker due to the copper pairs twists, larger splines that separate pairs and the thicker outer jackets. This makes the preparation, installation and termination of the cables more difficult. While weighing your cabling options, factor in the longer and more complex installation of the cables.
During PoE applications, smaller diameter Cat6a cables might not offer the support required for the full 100m distance for every channel. But, Cat6z can offer full 100m support distance for other data transmission. This not only helps in providing extra performance, but also offers support for a huge range of data center configurations like middle of row, end of row and top of rack configurations.
While Cat6a cables are an excellent choice for 10G networks, you need to evaluate your current and future data requirements to choose the right cables. After all, if you have to upgrade, the cabling infrastructure can be complicated and costly. Therefore, before you choose the right Cat6a cable, make sure that you take into consideration all the factors above so you have fully optimized systems in your business.