It's not magic; 8 has a future

When I was in my late teens, my closest friends and I would consult our magic 8 ball when we had to make a tough decision.

From the May, 2013 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

When I was in my late teens, my closest friends and I would consult our magic 8 ball when we had to make a tough decision. Of course, in those days the tough decisions were whether we should go to the movies or to the mall, or to choose Coke or Pepsi. For laughs we also used to ask the 8 ball yes/no questions about our respective futures. It was fun, and because there really was no importance to any of these decision, we let the 8 ball decide for us.

A magic 8 ball adorns this issue's cover because one of the hottest topics of conversation in the cabling industry today is the development of Category 8 cabling performance specifications. However, unlike the misspent nights of my youth, the time and work that will be required to develop these cabling specifications carry great import because of the significant impact these specifications will have on future cabling-system designs and installations.

A year ago, any of the random positive, neutral or negative responses from a magic 8 ball might have been just as insightful as an answer from an informed source within a standards-making body about the future of Category 8. What, if anything, would happen with next-generation twisted-pair cabling was largely unknown. And if anything was going to happen, even less was known about what it would be called (i.e., Category 8, Category Something Else).

Since then decisions have been made, hence the positive message from the 8 ball on our cover: "It is decidedly so." There will be a set of Category 8 cabling specifications. But that is far from the last word, as a couple of the articles in this issue (one beginning on page 21 and the other on page 25) point out. In addition to the Category 8 specs that will come from the TIA, the cabling industry also will see Category 8.1 and Category 8.2 specs from the ISO/IEC.

The paths that the TIA and ISO/IEC take to Category 8 and Category 8.1/8.2, respectively, probably will be more like bank shots than trick shots. The eventual result is known, even if the way to it is indirect. Achieving that result will require effort and precision, both of which are quite familiar to the professionals in these standards-making groups.

We are years away from the publication of Category 8 from TIA, as well as Category 8.1/8.2 and Class I and Class II (read the articles) from ISO/IEC. Stay in touch with their progress, because when it's time to specify such a cabling system, no one wants to get caught behind the 8 ball. ::

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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