The KRONE Group (Denver, CO; www.krone.com) says now is the optimum time for it to come out with a Category 6 cabling system that enables 10-Gigabit Ethernet, even though a standard for this process has yet to be determined.
"The idea is to try and present the customer with the hope of running 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper wire, and we feel that will now happen," says Bob Kenny, vice president and general manager of the KRONE Premise Division.
The KRONE Group has introduced what it says is the world's first augmented Category 6 structured cabling system with the necessary characteristics to enable 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet transmission over a full 100 meters. This new end-to-end suite of cable and connector products, called CopperTen, is the result of KRONE's technological breakthrough first announced last November at the IEEE conference in Albuquerque, NM.
The KRONE Group has introduced what it says is the world's first augmented Category 6 structured cabling system with the necessary characteristics to enable 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet transmission over a full 100 meters.
The system is designed to overcome the expected challenges of insertion loss and alien crosstalk. KRONE guarantees the systems will have the available capacity that is greater than or equal to 18 Gbits/sec. CopperTen products, the company claims, exceed established TIA and ISO requirements for Category 6 structured cabling systems.
The system was launched March 30, and KRONE representatives say they are seeing an "uptick" in sales. While it will take three to six months before the company gets a clear picture on how CopperTen is selling, KRONE expects sales for the system to take off, partly because they claim it offers more value and is less expensive than optical fiber.
"The price of active hardware to run gigabit currently over fiber is six times more expensive than copper," says Tim Takala, director of support technologies for KRONE. "It would be cheaper in the LAN to get a distance of 100 meters over a copper solution than over a fiber solution."
While Takala enthuses, "We are the first out the gate," that's drawn fire from some in the industry who say KRONE and other manufacturers are being too hasty. Critics claim product promises are empty, and that the manufacturers are guilty of promoting the so-called "10-Gig spin." Until the IEEE has defined a usable bandwidth for 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper, critics wonder how a company can guarantee that their products will meet a yet-to-be-developed application. They also argue that such products still must overcome roadblocks such as heat dissipation and alien crosstalk.
Although a standard is not due out for probably another two to three years, Kenny says the situation did not prevent the industry from moving forward in the past. He notes, for example, that Category 6 cable wasn't ratified until 2002 but manufacturers began selling Cat 6 cables in 1997.
"One of the biggest issues in the industry is, 'Should you be introducing something before the official standard?'" asks Kenny. "But that is what everyone has done for the last 20 years. It's a paradox. Category 5 wasn't a standard for three to four years, but it was used by one-third of the market even before there was a standard."
Takala adds that CopperTen products are, in fact, designed to tackle alien crosstalk. The solution's cable, he says, features a uniquely twisted, finished jacket that creates air gaps between subsequent cables. "We twist the jacket so that it leaves air pockets between cable portions," says Takala. "The signal has to travel through cable and air pockets, and it mitigates alien crosstalk. It's a significant improvement."
Kenny notes that KRONE's customers are already buying up components that would utilize 10-Gigabit Ethernet, and so must be provided with a solution to match. "Our customers are rattled because gigabit switches are starting to outship 10/100 switches," says Kenny. "If a gigabit switch is right around the corner, people are now looking at 10-Gigabit and saying, 'What is the next step after that?'"
Kenny claims customers are futureproofing their systems, and that the CopperTen solution will help them do it. "The customers are sending us a message that they want the cable to last more than two or three years," says Kenny. "We are seeing a strong demand, with most customers putting in a cable that will last one or two iterations in the future."