26 Jan 2009

What Is Data Cabling Verification?

Data cabling verification is done to ensure that manufactured data cables are able to meet the required international and industry standards. Data cables are typically made of 4 twisted pairs of copper wires. The characteristics of the cable include the size of the wires, how they are twisted, their casings, and several other manufacturing characteristics. These characteristics then combine to give the cable its performance with regard to data transmission.

Speed ratings

Depending on the performance of a data cable, it is categorized by industry standards set by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The characteristics and performance of a data cable are measured in several parameters, set forth in the TIA Standard 568-B.2-10.

One of the most important parameters is the frequency with which the cable is able to transmit data. In general, the higher the frequency of the carrier signal in the cable, the greater the amount of data that can be sent through the cable in a shorter amount of time.

For example, Category 5e (CAT5e) cables are rated to carry signals up to 250 MHz. This allows CAT5e cables to carry data at speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s. The newer Category 6a (CAT6a) cables, on the other hand, can carry signals at 550 MHz. This allows for data transmission speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s. Using the best quality cable and connectors, maximises your ability to achieve the fastest levels of performance.

Signal noise and slower data

Data cables do not just have to follow standards for data transmission speed. They also have to follow performance specifications for the loss of electrical signals from the wires. This “bleeding” of electrical signal strength from the twisted wire pairs is called crosstalk. The newer CAT6 and CAT6a cables have more stringent requirements for the amount of signal noise produced by crosstalk, both at the origin and at the destination of the data packets. These parameters also have to be verified before a manufactured cable is marked as meeting CAT6/6a cable standards.

Signal loss also occurs simply because of the physical properties of copper wire. Most data cables carry copper wiring that has a maximum impedance of 100 ohm. However, the process of creating the twisting pairs within the data cable and the actual length of the cable, among other things, contribute to inevitable weakening of the data signal. This is called attenuation.

Once again, the newer CAT6 and CAT6a cables have stricter criteria for attenuation. Higher signal frequencies mean more data travelling through the cable. Thus it is more important that less attenuation occurs with these cables given the volume of data they are supposed to carry.

What are you using?

Data cables should be verified by the time they get to you. The markings indicating their verification for performance and safety should be printed on the outer insulation of the cable. If you aren’t up to par with your technical know-how, then the professional help of a cabling engineer or technician will be invaluable to you. Call us for a free site survey and we can tell you if you’re running the right kind cables in your network and the maximum amount of data that your cables can carry (using validation equipment).



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