Top 6 Things to Know About the New Category 8 Cabling Standard

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has published ANSI/TIA-568-C.2-1, which supports 25, 40 and possibly even 50GBASE-T over Category 8 copper cabling. As you consider high-bandwidth applications, here are some key things to keep in mind.

1) How far can you go?

Category 8 channel reach is 30 meters, much shorter than the 100-meter channel of traditional categories of copper cabling.

2) It’s a familiar face!

Category 8 has the familiar RJ45 interface, so jacks and plugs are compatible with the same patch panels, switches, and other equipment that users are familiar with today.

Category 8 products

Category 8 will be deployed as shielded twisted pair construction only.

3) Shields up!

While other category cabling uses unshielded or shielded twisted pair construction, Category 8 will only be shielded cable construction.

4) Where, oh where can it be?

Category 8 is designed for the data center. More specifically, it is designed to support 25G and 40GBASE-T switch-to-server links, a typical fiber-optic application. It will provide the most cost-effective and easiest-to-deploy 25G and 40G links within the data center. The 30-meter reach makes it challenging for Category 8 to be used to deliver higher bandwidth to the desktop or in other Enterprise applications in large-scale deployments.

5) Can Enterprise play, too?

Due to the reach limits of Category 8, Panduit recommends installing Category 6A today for all Enterprise applications. Category 6A supports up to 10GBASE-T at lengths up to 100 meters. Investing in a Category 6A infrastructure for your Enterprise space is the smartest and most cost-effective option for long-term optimal performance of your network. Panduit’s Advanced MaTriX Category 6A products have the additional advantage of allowing optimal heat dissipation and performance with next-generation Power over Ethernet (PoE++).

6) The next step …

Manufacturers are actively developing the next generation 25G and 40G products. Panduit expects to have its product offering – including cabling and connectivity – in 2017, to coincide with the launch of active equipment that will require the higher speeds.

Panduit has already received third-party approval on it’s upcoming Category 8 solution. Learn more here.

Panduit Sees Growth in Stagnant Structured Cabling Market

The structured cabling industry showed a downturn in 2015, according to recent research results shared  by BSRIA. The organization noted a difficult global market for the industry, showing a 3% decline, to $6 billion dollars for 2015. They cited a strong U.S. dollar, lower oil prices, and delays in project timelines as the primary market drivers causing market contraction.

A bright spot in the market analysis is the continued growth of Category 6A in structured cabling. This growth is fueled by a growing need for increased bandwidth, and an upward trend to converge separate legacy protocols onto standard Ethernet protocols. The ongoing evolution of wireless communication standards, which require more than 1 Gb of bandwidth to wireless access points, are compelling IT staff to realize that enterprise-wide multi-gig applications are already here.market growth

Panduit has achieved market growth rates for Category 6A that exceed the BSRIA market assessment and we continue to see strong growth for Category 6A in our target markets globally. End users who install our MaTriX solution benefit from improved alien crosstalk, smaller cable diameters, and the best thermal performance in the industry, a critical factor when Power over Ethernet is part of the installation.

Educated end users recognize that the time for smart infrastructure investment is now.

The convergence of separate systems into a single IP network raises the relevance of the network infrastructure. It is at the core of why our customers continue to choose Panduit and drive our sustained growth in a market with strong economic headwinds.

Whether you are looking for a solution to support the convergence of your networks, or simply want to add wireless access points to your space, Panduit would like to help. Contact your sales rep or distributor today, and we will help you identify the perfect solution.

Category 8: Delivering 25 and 40GBASE-T

Category 8 is the new copper twisted-pair structured cabling standard being developed within both the TIA and ISO groups to support the new 25 and 40GBASE-T standards being developed by the IEEE. Category 8 is going to have a few differences over prior Category 5e, 6, or 6A cabling, but will still retain the familiarity and features that make RJ45 copper the most widely deployed Ethernet technology on the market.

Cat 8 product

What is new with Category 8?

There are a few differences between Category 8 and prior categories that should be understood.

  • Shielded offering only (no unshielded option)
  • 30 meter reach (versus 100 meter reach for Category 5e, 6, and 6A)
  • Only 2 connectors allowed per channel (versus 4 for Category 5e, 6, and 6A)
  • 4 times the bandwidth of Category 6A, going all the way up to 2000 MHz

    Cat 8 2000 MHz

What is the same with Category 8?

While there are differences, a lot stays the same, as well.

  • Category 8 uses the same RJ45 interface as Category 5e, 6, and 6A, which makes it backwards compatible with 100BASE-T, 1000BASE-T, and 10GBASE-T systems
  • Category 8 will be field terminable and field testable once available product comes to market

What do these differences mean?

Because of the limited reach of 30 meters and 2 connectors, Category 8 is focused on data centers, particularly End of Row or Top of Rack deployments.

This means that as a data center manager, you should plan for:

  • A maximum jack-to-jack reach of 24 meters
  • Grounding the connectivity
  • A maximum of 6 meters of patch total

Latest Industry Developments

Panduit is the latest company to announce that our Category 8 system has been tested by Intertek (3rd party) and confirmed to meet the latest Category 8 TIA draft standard.

The Panduit system we tested was a 30-meter channel, with a 24-meter link and 6 meters of patch cords (3 meters on each end).

It is expected that the standard will be ratified by mid-2016, which is the earliest point where product will be available.

What should I do today?

Panduit strongly recommends against installing any Category 7 or 7A systems. These systems do not have the bandwidth (Category 7 is 600MHz, 7A is 1000MHz) to handle 25 or 40GBASE-T (need bandwidth over 1600MHz). Additionally, Category 7 and 7A do not use RJ45 connectors, so a hybrid patch cord would be required to interface to the equipment.

If you are deploying a cabling system now, Panduit recommends that you install and deploy Category 6A systems. They have the same RJ45 interface as the equipment and can run all current applications up to 10GBASE-T. If you are planning a layout to eventually accommodate Category 8, stick to a permanent link length of 24 meters or below with up to 6 meters of patch total.

Joliet Catholic Academy Enhances Learning Experience

It’s Back-to-School season for many readers and their children—time for students of all ages to meet new friends and teachers, get some fresh school clothes and/or uniforms, and check for the closest wi-fi hot spot.

Technology has become a significant part of students’ everyday lives, with tablets and interactive eBooks starting to replace heavy textbooks in everyone’s backpack, according to SecurEdge Networks.  In fact, SecurEdge reports that the average college student now uses three devices daily, and 67% of surveyed students claim that they cannot go more than one hour without using some sort of digital technology.

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Common Core State Standards Initiative

Common Core Standards MapAs many of us know, Common Core is a set of high academic standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts.  The standards outline what students are going to accomplish throughout each school year.  The ultimate goal is to prepare America’s students for college and career as stated by the Common Core State Standards.  In effort to achieve these goals, school systems are now being asked to integrate technology into their academic programs, i.e. digital materials, present with multiple media formats, as well as promote collaboration amongst students and schools with the use of blogs and social media.

The Common Core Initiative has been received with mixed reviews from parents across the country, however there are also challenges for  educational IT departments as well.  With all of the new technologies being introduced into the classroom, you now have increased devices connected to the network, higher bandwidth demands, speed expectations, increased wireless coverage, network security issues, and not to mention the budget to fund it all!

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The Health of Your Network Matters

Nursing HomeHospitals, clinics, extended care facilities, and physicians’ offices are facing increasing pressure to improve the quality of healthcare while decreasing costs.  In response, health care providers are adopting greater use of electronic medical records, automated equipment and building automation systems. As a result, the number of users requiring network access through the use of portable and mobile devices such as handheld units and laptops to manage patient records, monitor clinical applications and reference workplace requirements is extending the need for campus wide network access.

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Is It Time to Beef Up Your School Technology Infrastructure?

School curriculum is changing! You used to have pencils, paper, chalkboards, and if you were lucky, an overhead projector.  Now our children are using computers, iPads, or even learning from the comfort of their own home! The technology advances in the education field are amazing, but what does it mean for a school’s physical infrastructure?  Are they prepared to handle all of these advanced digital materials and learning devices?

We all know that bandwidth requirements are ever-increasing, and if you work in the education field, how can you be prepared to future-proof your network?  With many districts facing these same future-proofing issues, here are six strategies for school IT administrators to consider before embarking on any physical infrastructure technology improvement plan.

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Wireless Technology in the Enterprise Space

Today’s generation of workers expect a mobile work environment.  With trends like virtual desktop initialization and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) coming into play, employees are online practically 24/7 it seems.  In order for companies to be able to support these wireless trends, they must make sure that their infrastructure is robust enough to withstand increased network traffic and high bandwidth applications. Continue reading