Manufacturers are following these trends and are poised to release
a product quickly once the standard is published. Leviton, for instance,
already has designed a new connector that accommodates Cat 5e and 8.
Dearing spoke at the BICSI show in February to start educating the
industry about the new standard. He warned contractors to expect instal-
lation to be somewhat harder due to the extra shielding.
“As always, follow the limitations in the standard for overall chan-
Since the embedded BASE-T protocols already use the RJ- 45 as the
nel length, reductions in allowed length for elevated temperature, and
trade-offs between patchcord and horizontal cable length,” Montgomery
said. “For support of 25G and 40G BASE-T, the number of connectors is
limited to two per channel.”
Of course, she said to be sure to follow the manufacturers’ instruc-
tions for connector termination and installation.
equipment outlet, an easy upgrade path exists as the electronics are
gradually improved from 10G BASE-T to 25G or 40G BASE-T.
Electrical contractors (ECs) that are experts’ Cat 6a and lower cabling
systems can easily apply their knowledge to this new cabling category,
extending the lifetime of their skills for another generation.
In the meantime, the TIA is still developing field testing, and Fluke
Networks is working on its own tools to ensure the company will be
ready when the cables are being installed. Most existing fixtures for
field testing will no longer be useful for Cat 8 cable, according to Adrian
Young, product-marketing engineer at Fluke Networks, Everett, Wash.
Fluke sells an RJ- 45 plug that meets Cat 8 requirements, and Young
said that Fluke and other test-equipment companies are doing due diligence to ensure tools are ready for Cat 8 installations. ECs need be
confident that, when they terminate the cable, they can properly test
the connection and prove that they delivered what the end-user wanted.
Fluke also offers fault diagnostics to address what happens when it
fails. It offers the contractor the ability to look down the cable with the
tester and view a display as to where the failure may be.
The Fluke DSX-5000 CableAnalyzer runs transfer conversion loss
(TCL) measurements by injecting a differential mode signal into each
twisted-pair cable and measuring the common mode signal that returns.
Young said it is a module that sits in Fluke’s Versiv mainframe.
“So, for Category 8, it will be a new module that goes in the Versiv
mainframe along with new Category 8 permanent link adapters and chan-
nel adapters,” he said.
According to Young, the new module, as with the current DSX-5000
CableAnalzyer module, will be capable of doing TCL and equal level transverse conversion transfer loss (ELTCTL) measurements, along with direct
current (DC) resistance unbalance within a pair and DC resistance unbalance between pairs.
Barriers in the way
“Although we have shown prototype hardware, there are still some is-
sues to be resolved in the cabling standards before a product could be
shipped,” Young said. So, with Cat 8, Fluke is “almost there.”
The same is true for the connecting hardware vendors.
“Every time we bump up a category, there’s a learning curve,” he said.
“Don’t be scared of it, but be cautious. Make sure you understand what
you’re working with.”
Fluke works closely with cable vendors to ensure field testing will
be available for installing all of the new products. However, for the first
time with copper, high-speed data is getting easier to accommodate.
Wireless access points are going to be another area to watch, Dearing said. The 802.11ac is the next version of commercial access points,
offering more than 1 Gbps of bandwidth. Currently, Cat 6 cable would
be used with the new access points, but as the numbers increase to 5
Gbps, it will be a challenge to get that much data through a cable not
designed for those levels.
“Leviton is promoting the fact that, if you’re going to be pulling cable,
you should pull 6a,” Dearing said, because of its better thermal charac-
teristics for the high-powered access points.
S WEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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