UTP Cabling Selection: All About the End-Points

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What do we mean by end-points, and why do they matter? We’re talking about end-point applications, and they’re important when it comes to choosing the right UTP cabling solution for the right end-point application.

While there are a lot of variables that come into play, relatively speaking, variables like transmission speeds may be among what’s least important.

Comparing Cat 5e and 6 Cabling Solutions

Cat 5e and Cat 6 both provide 1Gb/s transmission speeds over 100 meters, but with a cost differential of approximately 30 percent. If the transmission speeds are the same, you may be asking what’s the rationale to pay this premium? It comes down to the end-point applications and the MHz, or signal frequency required to effectively provide them. Of course, it’s also about headroom (i.e., the amount of signal available above the noise floor) or being able to maintain signal integrity over the industry standard 100M cable run length.

Origin signal strength is a constant – you can’t increase signal strength to muscle more data through a UTP cable with a lower frequency capacity. So, what can you do to deliver the needed data over 100M to an end-point application requiring higher data capacity? The answer is using a higher frequency/MHz UTP cable (i.e., a cable type that may have the same transmission speed, but can support the high data capacity needs of certain end-point applications).

Two UTP Cable Types With the Same 1 Gb/s Transmission Speed, but a 2.5x MHz Disparity

Varying physical UTP cable constructions provide for MHz capacity variations within UTP that has the same transmission speed. See the Cat 5e and Cat 6 comparison below.

Category

Max Frequency

Transmission Speeds

Associated End Point Applications

5e

100 MHz

1 Gb/s

Building Control Systems/PC LANs

6

250 MHz

1 Gb/s

Building Control Systems/IP Cameras

6A

500 MHz

10 Gb/s

802.11x WAPS/Video/Digital Signage/IP UHD Cameras

7A

1000 MHz

10 Gb/s

Video

 

IP Surveillance End-Point Applications

As the capabilities of high performance end-points – like HD and UHD security cameras continue to increase, an installation using Cat5e cabling may not produce good results. As the bandwidth demands of the end-points increase, latency, jitter and signal attenuation from the farthest cable runs many cause degradation of the signals being generated by these systems, leading to either poor quality images or lost packets of data. 

When looking at Cat 5e vs. Cat 6 or 6A (100MHz vs. 250MHz vs. 500 MHz, respectively), it’s easy to identify the cables that offer the frequency needed to meet these end-point applications.

Think of it this way. The higher the frequency, the wider the pipe. The wider the pipe, the higher the data capacity.

High Speed Wireless Access

We all know that any reliable wireless network has a strong wired backbone as its foundation. With the high capacity wireless BICSI standard, 802.11x, high capacity wireless at the sports stadium level will become a reality. To provide high capacity wireless to your stadium goers, you’ll need high capacity wireless access points (WAPs) in your stadium, right? And all of your WAPs will be connected to your network by high capacity/high MHz UTP cabling. Again, it’s always the end-point applications driving the need for the right UTP solution.

Think about the amount of data coming across the network during an NFL, NBA or MLB game at your stadium. If you’re trying to deliver simultaneous wireless capacity to an 80,000 game-time crowd, you have to look to higher MHz category cabling like 6A (500 MHz) to be able to handle this. In this instance, the end-point application driving Cat 6A adoption is the need for high capacity wireless throughout your stadium.

Meet the Requirements of Your End-Point Applications

When determining what UTP category cabling type may be needed, it’s not necessarily how fast the data flows through the cable, but how much data can flow through the cable, at any given time and at the required transmission speed over the 100M standard.

The higher the frequency, the wider the pipe. The wider the pipe, the higher data capacity you have. Always keep this and the end-point application in mind when selecting the appropriate UTP cable type for your project.

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