Dispelling the "limited importance" myth of patch cords

Agrowing body of evidence suggests that patch cords are more critical to high-speed networks than engineers previously believed. The role of patch cords in the network proves the old adage that the best hardware is only as good as the weakest link. And the significance of patch cords will become even more evident as local area networks migrate to higher-speed protocols such as 100Base-T, Asynchronous Transfer Mode, and ultimately 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet operating on 4-pair, Category 5 unshie

Mar 1st, 1998

Tom Russell, Quabbin Wire & Cable

Agrowing body of evidence suggests that patch cords are more critical to high-speed networks than engineers previously believed. The role of patch cords in the network proves the old adage that the best hardware is only as good as the weakest link. And the significance of patch cords will become even more evident as local area networks migrate to higher-speed protocols such as 100Base-T, Asynchronous Transfer Mode, and ultimately 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet operating on 4-pair, Category 5 unshielded twisted-pair cabling.

Manufacturers of next-generation premises hardware systems have verified that a minimal quality Category 5 cord assembly can adversely affect system performance at higher data rates. Therefore, these manufacturers are beginning to recommend high-quality patch cords constructed with high-performance cable for use in high-speed data-communications networks, according to mod-tap vice president of engineering Kenneth Boyd.

Quabbin Wire & Cable recently evaluated more than 20 different premises hardware systems. Each system included a wall plate, 90 meters of enhanced 350-megahertz cabling, a patching system, and 2 meters of patch cord at each end. Data shows that a high-quality patch cord significantly improved the return-loss performance of all systems tested.

To see a complete listing of the test results, visit Quabbin`s Web site at www.quabbin.com/tech_briefs/premise.html. A summary of the test program is available on video or cd-rom. Contact mod-tap at (978) 772-5630 or Quabbin Wire & Cable at (800) 368-3311 for more information.

Tom Russell is vice president of marketing and sales at Quabbin Wire & Cable (Ware, MA).

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