Sometimes new technology comes along and says 'buy me I'm new faster and better than ever before' and just like good consumers we find ourselves picking up the phone and asking for the very latest thing. In this case it's Cat 7, which has been around a while but it's only just starting to become big.
Part of the demand for Cat 7 is the possibility of 40G bandwidth. Most systems run at 600Mhz and you're thinking yep, that'll future proof me and you'd be right too.
Lets look at this in more detail - what do we need to consider? Well firstly Cat 7 is not yet a fully ratified specification and unlike with the long wait for Cat 6 (which uses RJ45 connectors) to become ratified each system uses it's own propriety connector system. And we are currently in a race for the dominant system to take the lead and become the de facto connector of choice.
Think of the Blue Ray Vs HD DVD contest which seemed to go on for ages and help back literally millions of sales because consumers we just not sure which system to go with.
So what do we have to choose from at the moment? These are the main contenders:
- Siemon TERA Category 7
- Nexans GG45 LANmark-7
- AMP SL TWIST-7
The Nexans GG45 will be the most familiar looking as they have styled the connector system to look like the more traditional RJ45 connectors. Don't be fooled it's not the same and you will need a whole new set of tools to assemble.
Installation and testing
This brings me to my next point, installation and testing. So you like the look of one of the systems. You then need to tool up and get the test gear not a low cost option. But then if you want the best you need to invest.
Here are some videos showing the assembly process of each system:
Another thing to consider is the active equipment and what connection interfaces they have. For example, you install the vertical cabling to Cat 7 but the switches have RJ45 inputs which effectively steps down the transmission speeds.
I have to say at this point I love new technology and I get excited about the new possibilities provided by the best and latest. It's just that I can't help thinking that if you are going to all this trouble to implement Cat 7 why not go for fibre? I know the active equipment costs more but fibre will last for ever and far exceeds the bandwidth required for today's data hungry networks.
Ultimately the market will decide and it does come down to personal choice. I hope that I have helped you to make a better informed choice. And as I always say, don't be afraid to ask your cabling experts - all the good ones will help you make the best decision that is right for you.
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