Selecting Category 5 components based on termination

Connector or cable selection/specifying are issues generally encountered in Category 5 installations. Although price and availability are important, other factors such as speed, quality of termination and link performance are critical. The bottom line is to avoid excessive troubleshooting and rework time that these factors can cause.

Problem

Connector or cable selection/specifying are issues generally encountered in Category 5 installations. Although price and availability are important, other factors such as speed, quality of termination and link performance are critical. The bottom line is to avoid excessive troubleshooting and rework time that these factors can cause.

Solution

To help make these installation decisions, you can benchmark the speed and quality of termination for different manufacturers` cable and connector products. Although this may not cover all parameters, it will provide a pecking order based on performance rather than strictly cost.

Procedure

1) Select five cable samples per manufacturer, each 200 feet long. Mark the near and far end of each.

2) Obtain 10 of each brand of connectors.

3) After you have practiced terminating the connector to be evaluated, terminate each cable sample with a connector and record the time it takes to terminate the 10 connectors.

4) Measure the worst-case attenuation and near-end crosstalk margin for each terminated cable length at both ends.

5) Using the same cable lengths, trim back the cable and have another technician install the connectors to the cable.

--Evaluate the data for three critical parameters--cost per decibel of crosstalk, headroom cost per termination and attenuation headroom.

--Cost per decibel of crosstalk headroom is the most important because crosstalk is a primary concern in field testing.

--Cost per termination is important to look at with the average time/termination.

--Cost per decibel of attenuation headroom is of secondary concern because field problems with attenuation are rare.

When evaluating crosstalk and attenuation, record the minimum and maximum value. The lower the number, the greater the amount of margin for each dollar spent.

Note: If installation dollars are limited, you might sacrifice headroom for installed cost. Or if an adapter is required to mate your preferred connector with modular furniture, you might decide on the second-choice connector, if it does not require an adapter.

This information was provided by the technical staff at General Cable Corp., Highland Heights, KY.

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