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Network performance may suffer as a result of installation issues raised by Category 6
17 July 2002, Interconnection

The new Category 6 cabling standard could present IT managers with a major containment problem in buildings where smaller diameter cables were originally specified, according to Molex Premise Networks. As a consequence of heightened performance sensitivity in the Category 6 standard, network performance is liable to suffer should installers attempt to cut corners.

The same installation practices specified several years ago for Category 5 are still applicable for Category 6, as no new installation practices have been specified by either the TIA or ISO Category 6 draft specifications. However, as performance criteria are more demanding for Category 6, it is more sensitive to the quality of the installation. Any errors or shortcuts in a Category 6 installation will be more likely to result in a marginal pass or even a fail. It is now more important than ever to use a reputable installer and to check the details of the manufacturer's warranty.

Category 6 cabling is physically larger in diameter (by ~1 mm) than Category 5. Also, the cable construction makes the cable stiffer and more prone to kinking, requiring a larger bend radius. If the bend radius is too small, or the cable gets kinked, then performance of the network will be affected. The minimum cable bend radius is typically 8 times the diameter. Where a 25 mm radius would be appropriate within a back box, the conduit leading to it would require minimum bends of 50 mm radius. This has a significant impact on the re-use of legacy containment systems within buildings where smaller diameter cables were originally installed.

Molex has designed an innovative angled PowerCat 6 MOD-SNAP module to ease Category 6 cable network installations in space constrained environments. The company says the unique angled design reduces work area cord bend radius, a considerable advantage in Category 6 installation environments, where the minimum depth requirement is 25 mm. Modern buildings built with shallow floor spaces and older buildings with narrow containment systems suitable for Category 5 and Category 5e systems, could present installation problems for Category 6 cabling. Without the angled MOD-SNAP, a decision to move to Category 6 in some buildings could mean major re-routing of cabling through the building, or the need for expensive interior work, says Molex Premise Networks.

For more information: Eugene Botes, Molex Premise Networks, 082 854 1505,

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