Only Connect: Product Technology – Cat 7 network cabling

Welcome to another post in the series by Nick Locke, of Nicab Ltd, who has over 15 years experience in the electronics manufacturing industry specialising in interconnection cable assembly.
Lately there has been a lot of interest in Cat 7 and I’m going to give you an overview of what’s available and where I believe copper is in terms of capacity of data transmission.

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.

Main contenders

So what do we have to choose from at the moment? These are the main contenders:

  • Siemon TERA Category 7
  • Nexans GG45 LANmark-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:

Connection interfaces

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.

Previous Only Connect entries:

* Only Connect: Carbon nanotubes - a new interconnection technology

* Only Connect: Ten things to consider when choosing a coax connector

* Only Connect: How to promote UK Manufacturing #4

* Only Connect: Renewable energy made in the UK (Going Green #5)

* Only Connect: Electronics and natural disasters

* Only Connect: A simple guide to DVI Connectors

* Only Connect: A Thunderbolt of innovation

* Only Connect: The golden principle of good design

* Only Connect: Common fiber connectors - a guide

* Only Connect: Product innovation - mixing signal

* Only Connect: IPC versus Greenpeace electronics scorecard

* Only Connect: Product innovation from Space

* Only Connect: Apple's MagSafe connector makes sense

* Only Connect: Coaxial connections guide

* Only Connect: Eco-gift for Christmas (Going Green #4)

* Only Connect: How to promote UK Manufacturing #3

* Only Connect: On using Ethernet connectors

* Only Connect: High-temp superconductors good news for renewable energy

* Only Connect: A positive mindset for winning government contracts

* Only Connect: A Top Ten of connector manu facturers

* Only Connect: Red toxic sludge points the way (Going Green #3)

* Only Connect: Handy Design Tips #4 - Explosion proof Ethernet

* Only Connect: We're changing the world into a better place, baby!

* Only Connect: Handy Design Tips #3 - The right wrong connector

* Only Connect: Proud of the Made In UK mark

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