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Structured Cabling ●From previous page


●It’s also possible to run power over Ethernet to run low powered equipment such as security cameras, wireless access points and phones, reducing the need to have new mains sockets installed around the building.


What are some of the main structured cabling standards? As with any technology, structured cabling systems have changed somewhat over the years. The majority of systems now use twisted pair cabling in some form. The most common is CAT- 5e which is adequate for most office networks, although it’s no longer used in many installations. CAT-5e supports speeds of up to a gigabit and is thus suitable for Gigabit Ethernet systems. It is physically the same as the original CAT-5 but is manufactured to higher standards for greater speeds. Both have an effective distance restriction of around 100 metres before performance begins to suffer. CAT-6 is now the most widely deployed


network cable. The principal advantage of CAT-6 is that it is capable of driving faster speeds (up to 10Gbps) for short distances of up to around 55 metres, and lower speeds for greater distances. If you are installing in a factory or another


electrically noisy environment then it is worth remembering that CAT-6 does not necessarily have shielding so this is a consideration for electrically noisy environments. Any such installation would require FTP cable which is available in varying categories including the ones listed here in this article.


CAT-6a, in contrast, is often shielded to minimise any crosstalk between the conductors in the cable and, as such, can handle up to 40Gbps over short distances and10Gbps up to 100m. CAT-7 has individually shielded pairs of cables. This allows for transmission frequencies of about 600 MHz. The CAT-8 standard has been announced and


will allow speeds of up to 40 Gbps and frequencies of 2 GHz over distances of 30 metres. However, it’s not as yet widely available.


Specialist termination - not always required We can’t leave this look at structured cabling without a quick look at termination. This covers the plugs and sockets used to make connections. The de-facto standard is RJ45, the connectors have eight pins to which the cable is crimped. Earlier cabling systems used only six pins, so when buying patch leads, it's important to get the right type! CAT-7 systems need a different connector


known as a GigaGate45 (GG45). Luckily these are backwards compatible with RJ45s, so there is no need to change everything. If you are upgrading to a CAT-7 system, you can make a gradual transition. That’s not quite the end of the story, however.


We mentioned the use of fibre optic cables above. These are increasingly used for backbone cabling on larger sites. They have to be installed carefully - they can’t turn sharp corners for example - but are capable of high transmission speeds and of handling large volumes of data. Both glass and plastic fibre are available, glass is costlier but performs better. All of that may seem a little complicated, but


compared with what went before, it’s actually pretty straight forward. And once you’ve experienced structured cabling you definitely won’t want to go back.


comms-express.com The majority of systems now use twisted pair cabling in some form.


The most common is CAT-5e which is adequate for most office networks, although it’s no longer used in many installations.


28 | electrical wholesalerOctober 2019 ewnews.co.uk


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