Amp Inc. (Harrisburg, PA) will begin shipping a 300-megahertz unshielded twisted-pair (utp) copper cabling system in the first quarter of 1998. The Quantum system will include utp cabling, patch cords, modular jacks, and modular patch panels.
"There has been considerable hype lately regarding high-performance utp cabling in support of gigabit-speed technologies and, until now, there has not been an unshielded cabling infrastructure system that provides superior performance advantages," says N. D`Arcy Roche, amp`s vice president and general manager for premises cabling and local area network (lan) systems and services. "The performance characteristics of our Quantum system address today`s needs and anticipate the higher data-rate requirements of the future. We expect early adopters of our system to be customers migrating to next-generation networking technologies."
amp claims that the ability to reach the 300-MHz mark results from innovations to both cable design and engin-eering techniques for its connecting hardware components and patch cord assemblies. In an announcement about the new product line, amp stressed that there is little value in deploying high-performance cable if the connectors do not match the cable`s performance.
"To reach peak performance, the connecting hardware must match the capabilities of the cable itself," says Tony Beam, amp`s director of systems marketing for premises cabling and lan systems and services. "The two together are absolutely critical to achieving the performance levels demanded by gigabit-speed systems and beyond. Although the connecting hardware, specifically the patch cord assembly, are viewed as commodity items, customers lured into piecing together products from multiple vendors will be disappointed."
Beam recalls that when Category 5 cable was introduced, the connector- ization products that were used with it could not match the cable`s performance. The result was that even though the cable achieved high-performance character- istics, the overall performance of the installed link and channel was compromised because of the connectorization products` limited capabilities. Beam says some manufacturers that make high- performance cable without accompanying high-performance connectorization products did not learn from this experience. He also says that because amp did learn from its experience with Category 5 cable and connecting products, the company did not set individual performance objectives for each component in the Quantum system. Rather, he says, performance testing has been applied to the complete system.
Beam explains that during development of each component, the performance improvements were established and verified by testing the component in a standard-compliant link and channel configuration. Samples of the components were tested in combination with each other. The configurations were tested using a network analyzer, and measurements were made in accordance with Telecommunications Industry Association (Arlington, VA) and industry test procedures for testing a cabling system.
According to Beam, the material cost for the Quantum system will be, on average, less than a 30% premium over enhanced Category 5 systems. He adds that when typical labor charges are factored in, the premium will likely be less than 10% over enhanced Category 5 systems and approximately 15% over a typical Category 5 system. amp provides a 15-year warranty on the Quantum system.
amp, which produces both copper-based and fiber-optic cabling and connectorization products, has produced a frequently-asked-questions sheet focusing on the Quantum system. The sheet explains the differences between Quantum and other high-performance copper cabling systems and gives amp`s viewpoint on some tough questions about the benefits of installing a Quantum system, rather than other copper systems or a fiber system.
"There has to be a significant improvement in performance to justify a move from a Category 5 system to another system," Beam says. "If an end-user is going to make that move, it should be for the maximum benefit possible."
On the subject of installing the Quantum system rather than a fiber-optic system, Beam opines, "If the industry could wipe the slate clean, fiber would be the way to go. But the installed base of cabl-ing systems is heavily copper-oriented. Many customers are not willing to restructure their entire electronics system to accommodate a fiber-optic system."
More information on the Quantum system is available by calling amp at (800) 835-7240 or visiting the Web site at www.amp.com/networking.