Broadcast News

Bookmark and Share

CAT6, Or Not CAT6, That Is The Question...

News Image
It is almost impossible these days to imagine a company without its own data network. These may vary in complexity and quality from CAT5e, CAT6, up to CAT6a. At first these look very similar, but they have very different specifications...

The more data you need to distribute around your network, the greater the bandwidth needs to be. This is typically reflected in the frequencies that the cable can support. CAT5e cable can support up to 100 MHz, CAT6 up to 250 MHz, and CAT6a up to 500 MHz. Many companies within the Broadcast and Media industry will have at least CAT6 structured cabling to accommodate the large files and data rates required for their work-flows. But how compliant are these CAT6 infrastructures?
Most reputable data installation companies test each cable for compliance, and can offer a manufacturer's warranty for up to 10 years. This only really applies if all the components of the CAT6 channel have been supplied by a single manufacturer i.e. cable, patch panels and wall-plates. Unfortunately there are other installers that simply test their Cat6 cables for continuity, ignoring or ignorant of the specification. Sadly these days, the latter is becoming commonplace. Without a compliance test there is no way to be sure that each CAT6 cable meets the standard. Just because the label on the patch panel and wall-plates says 'CAT6' doesn't make it so.
Why do some CAT6 cables fail to deliver? The choice of cable manufacturer is very important, so don't opt for a cheap brand. Many companies offer the label of CAT6 on their bulk cable, but do not guarantee the specification up to 100m. These cables simply can't deliver because the copper is not of a high enough grade to support the specification. On very short runs they will comply, but when the cables extend over a longer distance they fail. The impedance of CAT6 cable should be 100 ohms, yet some cheaper bulk cable is less, sometimes as low as 85 ohms. These cables will often fail to meet the CAT6 specification.
There are two main causes of cable failure; namely, crosstalk, which is data interference between adjacent pairs within the cable; or return loss, which is caused by poor quality copper with mismatched impedance. Anything less than a 100 ohm cable will cause data to effectively be lost down the cable, producing interference and hence signal loss. With crosstalk or return loss, data may become unrecoverable, resulting in the data packets being resent over the network. This can cause the network to appear slow.
In addition to the problem of cheap cable is quality of the installation itself. If the CAT6 cables are not installed and terminated correctly they may still pass a continuity test, but could fail a more rigorous compliance test. The cable will fail if there are kinks in the cable, or if the cable has been bent too tightly. It will also fail if the conductor pairs are unwound too much prior to termination.
So does a continuity test really mean that much? The only way to be sure your CAT6 infrastructure can deliver is to test it with an industry standard cable nalyser like a Fluke DTX or equivalent. These units can test circuits from CAT5e to 10Gb Ethernet cables, as well as fibre networks. They are quick and easy to use and give detailed reports on each circuit tested, leaving the client reassured that their structured cabling is working at its best. The units can also indicate what has caused a test failure, making it easy to rectify the fault.
However, these cable analysers don't come cheap, and are probably too expensive for in-house IT departments to own. Some companies offer a data Cable Health Check, providing testing services. This is important to companies who are moving into new premises and need assurances that the network infrastructure will meet their needs.
Mike Watson,Technical Director of Absolute CAD, explains: "Many installers of CAT6 cables simply test their work with a Mod-Tap or continuity tester, before handing over the network. Not once have they checked that the network conforms to the CAT6 standard, and many clients are left unaware that there are any issues."
Mike continues: "A network can easily be tested for compliance with an appropriate cable analyser giving peace of mind to clients and installers that the structured cabling in up to speed."
Absolute CAD provides Cable Health Check Services and professional wiring services to the Broadcast and Media Industry.

The article is also available in Broadcast Film & Video online.

Solidmate Ltd Memory Card Hire London

Top Related Stories
Click here for the latest broadcast news stories.

Barnfind Builds Fiber Transmission Network For BRICS Summit
Barnfind Technologies has provided the infrastructure for a fiber optic transmission system used by Xiamen TV to produce the 9th annual BRICS Summit.
Commedia To Demonstrate Advanced Network Optimisation Solutions at Broadcast India
Commedia – who were recently named a Bridge Technologies business partner for the country - will present Bridge Technologies' extensive range of solut
Bringing A National DAB Radio Network To Life
Italy has been at the forefront of digital radio adoption in Europe for two decades, with three national and several local DAB+ multiplexes on the air
Anevia To Introduce NEA-CDN® Content Delivery Network Solution
Anevia will introduce the latest version of its NEA-CDN® content delivery network solution to Middle East broadcasters and media channel managers atte
SIS LIVE Further Extends Anylive® Connectivity Network
SIS LIVE has further extended its Anylive® connectivity network to 25 horse racecourses throughout Ireland for television and data services to bookmak
Visual Data Media Services Acquires Digital Post Services
Visual Data Media Services has acquired Hollywood-based Digital Post Services (DPS) as part of its global acquisitions strategy. DPS has a well-establ
Production News : ITV Appoints New Group Chief Data And AI Officer
ITV has appointed Sanjeevan Bala as its new Group Chief Data & AI Officer. Reporting to Rufus Radcliffe, Chief Marketing Officer and Director of Direc
MLSE Enhances Real-Time Data Offerings To Sports Fans
Bannister Lake has announced that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) has enhanced its real-time data offerings to sports fans using Bannister
Murraypro Introduces New Analysis Features For Test Chest
In response to user's requests for this utility, Murraypro will unveil new Test Chest analysis capabilities at IBC in Hall 8, by introducing an AES Ey
AKA Design Furniture Stands Test Of Time At Decka Music
AKA Design has updated its original composing desk at Decka Music – which was installed nearly 18 years ago – to include an integrated Doepfler keyboa
Cinegy Passes Huawei Media Cloud Interoperability Test
Cinegy has announced that its Media Asset Management System has fully passed interoperability testing with Huawei's Media Cloud Solution. The tests we
TVN Selects Five Leader LV5490 Test Instruments
TVN Mobile Production has selected five Leader LV5490 test instruments for use in its first UHD-HDR mobile production truck. Logic Media Solutions, Le
Each Year, 4½ Bonus Days With Test Chest
Murraypro celebrated 20 consecutive exhibition years at IBC's Amsterdam Expo with the release of a new version of their rack mounted Test Chest. This
Why Aren't We Taking Data Seriously As An Asset?
Yutree are a general commercial insurance broker covering all industries with a long and successful heritage in the media and entertainment sector and
Arena Television Acquires Leader LV5350 Test Instruments
Arena Television has acquired four Leader LV5350 waveform monitors for its new OB17 vehicle which operates from Arena's Redhill Aerodrome headquarters