Category 6A Cable Supports Tomorrow’s Smart Government Buildings

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Just like any other organization, government agencies generate and store massive amounts of data at local, state and federal levels – from census and employment data, to data about military activities and covert operations. 

Some of this information is classified and private, while other pieces may be accessible by the public. With all of this data being transmitted daily through government networks, the system must be properly supported.

As data sharing increases across government networks, so does the number of devices connecting to these same networks. The Internet of Things and smart buildings aren’t only impacting businesses, education and healthcare – they’re taking hold in government agencies, too, for enhanced reliability, security, productivity, analytic capabilities, communication and integration.

As the smart-building concept is integrated into government facilities, we’re not only seeing devices like wireless access points, surveillance cameras, access control systems and Power over Ethernet (PoE) LED lighting fixtures connecting to networks, but also other government-specific applications as well. Sensors are a good example. Governments are taking advantage of their ability to monitor systems like roadways, power grids and water supply lines by notifying authorities of potential problems and maintenance needs.

A Converged Network 

What began as a single network to support government voice and data has expanded into a converged network that also supports many other systems as well. Converged networks can require longer reach (as devices are up to 100 m away from a switch) and demand higher PoE levels and 100 percent uptime for data collection and sharing.

To create these converged government networks, cabling and connectivity infrastructure must be able to manage multiple systems requiring more bandwidth and less latency. For this reason, standards that previously recommended Category 6A cabling for data centers now recommend it for LAN installations as well.

There are several examples of smart-building technology being deployed in government agencies. Many of these applications call for Category 6A cable to ensure uptime and performance.

1. Wireless Connectivity

Anticipated next year, Wi-Fi 6 (also known as IEEE 802.11ax) will improve average throughput per user by a factor of at least four in dense environments as compared to the current standard (IEEE 802.11ac).

Higher density, throughput and capacity capabilities in Wi-Fi 6 will make it the highest-performing set of wireless protocols to date. It will allow government agencies to experience the “always-on” connectivity they need, without worrying about slowdowns, bottlenecks or spotty connections – regardless of how many devices are simultaneously connecting and transferring data.

With an increase of wireless signals, cabling must be immune to external noise through proper TCL and ELTCTL levels (indicating cable balance). Category 6A cable has lower TCL and ELTCTL values, so it’s more balanced and less susceptible to noise.

2. In-Building Cellular Networks

Low-quality signals, dropped connections, and lack of coverage decrease productivity and increase frustration. As connectivity becomes a utility vs. a luxury, poor reception in government buildings and public spaces won’t be tolerated.

To successfully bring cellular signals indoor and eliminate poor coverage, government agencies are offloading cellular signals onto an in-building cellular network (either a distributed antenna system [DAS] or a Wi-Fi system).

To support in-building 4G and 5G coverage, high-performance category cabling is required. Fiber is also key to establishing an in-building cellular network. DAS hardware consists of a centralized headend connected through fiber to the building. It distributes carrier signals to remote units (repeaters) which boost indoor signals and push the cellular signal to antennas strategically placed throughout the building – sometimes hundreds of feet from remote units.

3. 100W PoE

With 100W PoE (IEEE 802.3bt) approved as a new standard, high levels of power are being transmitted along with data.

The 100W PoE standard allows devices that call for more power – such as IP cameras, digital signage screens, videoconferencing systems and wireless access points – to utilize a single category cable for both power and data transmission.

To deliver 100W to devices without worry of cable temperature rise or poor transmission performance, Category 6A cable is necessary. It offers a larger conductor diameter to reduce resistance and power waste; it also minimizes dissipation so more power is used as it transfers through the cable. Some Category 6A cables also have enough insertion loss margin to handle the extra heat generated from tightly packed cables.

As data rates continue to climb and more devices than ever connect to LANs, government agencies can plan ahead by deploying a cable optimized for smart building applications: Category 6A.

 

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The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Belden's. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.