Whats Next for Structured Cabling

When you plug the equipment cord into the network equipment and the work-area cord into the network interface card on a computer you either get a link light or you don`t. When you attach your cable tester to a channel and then test, you get either a "pass" or a "fail," with reports of margin. In both of these cases, does it matter how many connectors are in the channel? No, the only thing that matters is that the channel meets the prescribed parameters. So if you had really good connectors--conn

Oct 1st, 1998

When you plug the equipment cord into the network equipment and the work-area cord into the network interface card on a computer you either get a link light or you don`t. When you attach your cable tester to a channel and then test, you get either a "pass" or a "fail," with reports of margin. In both of these cases, does it matter how many connectors are in the channel? No, the only thing that matters is that the channel meets the prescribed parameters. So if you had really good connectors--connectors with zero effect on the channel, not the 8-pin modular connectors that are in the tia/eia-568a standard today--you could theoretically install a connector every few feet and still support high-speed applications. Well, there are no "zero-effect" connectors, but there are connector designs with greatly improved performance.

The furniture manufacturers have sat around the tia`s TR-41.8 subcommittee table for years, trying to explain to the cabling-system manufacturers what they could and could not do to accommodate structured cabling. At the same time, the cabling manufacturers consistently demanded larger raceways and placed more and more requirements on the furniture to compensate for inadequacies in the cabling. The furniture manufacturers recently requested that the 40% fill in furniture raceway be changed to 60% fill. Their request was defeated because of the threat of the dreaded alien crosstalk. And we were all warned that alien crosstalk would be even more of a concern with Category 6 cabling.

Now it seems that one furniture manufacturer--Haworth Inc.--has taken matters into its own lab. Have you seen or heard about DataThing? Manufactured jointly by Haworth and Krone Inc., the in-furniture cabling system connects furniture cabling to building cabling. The DataThing connectors, which self-align and snap together by hand (no tools required) and have electrical screening to minimize crosstalk, are the latest wrinkle in structured cabling. According to the Anixter test results, DataThing exceeds Category 5 performance with 20 connections in 100 meters. For more information, see www.anixter. com.

So what about the millions of cubicles out there with no power or telecommunications raceways at all? Furniture tends to live forever. It doesn`t go to the landfill; it simply moves down the socioeconomic ladder, usually as a tax credit to the donor. I issue a challenge to the furniture system manufacturers to come up with a retrofit solution for "racewayless" furniture systems--a solution that has to be better than the one currently in use: cable bundles tied to the electrical metallic tubing and permanently waxed to the floor. There must be a better way!

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