New Ethernet Standards

(penned in 2016)

I migrated a data center in New York that had Cat7/7A Tera connectors from Siemon at the new location. Having never seen the connectors before, I started asking a lot of questions. Apparently when the new data center was designed and approved, it was designed for the next level standard. That was way before it was built. When it was built, they built it to the new standard. The standard is used mostly in Europe but not recognized in TIA/EIA-568. With 40Gb with 1 cable at 50M and 100Gb with 1 cable at 15M it seems like the way to go. The data center orders all of their cables from Siemon in Europe. Kind of expensive, but with Twinax cables (Or SFP or Fiber over Ethernet) costing as much as they do it might be worth it. With data centers becoming cloud-like having so many virtual machines and multiple application scenarios running, why haven’t we here in the states adapted to the new standard?

The first benefit I see is Siemon’s “Cable Sharing”. The shielded design allows for 1-, 2-, and 4-pair outlet and plug modularity exceeding 10GBASE-T and using a single patch panel outlet. That means multiple applications over the same cable at the same time. The next one I see is bandwidth. TERA allows bandwidth of up to 1.2 GHz per pair. CAT7/Class F specifications are the highest of any copper available copper system.

Having had to pull a few cables in buildings when you go from CAT5e or Cat 6 to Cat 6A you have to pull as many cables for same amount of outlets/jacks. CAT 6A is larger because of the shielding on each pair, plenum separating the pairs and the outer shielding. That means you need more space to pull the same amount of cables. With Cat 7/7A TERA’s 4 pair outlet you can run 2 cables to do the same workload as 3 of CAT 5e. The cables are pretty much the same diameter as CAT 6A. So let’s say your standard is 3 outlets per desk, one being a flood gate/or to give you some room to grow in the future. Pulling 2 CAT 7 will give you a 100Mbps data connection, separate voice for phone and an unused cable for future growth. The cost benefit of this cable-sharing technique is that you will actually get more outlets and more future proofing for the same cost as a Category 5e solution would have been.

Lastly, the new standard is backward compatible with CAT 5e, 6, and 6A. Although most manufactures of active equipment have chosen to stay with 8P8C for their 10GbE products, the GG45, ARJ45 and TERA connectors are available. In other words you can get a CAT 7 cable with a TERA connector on one end and a shielded RJ45 on the other.

I know other companies besides Siemon are working on the new standard. Commscope is one of them. Please feel free to comment with your ideas and thoughts.


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