The Telecommunications Industry Association’s TR-42 Engineering Committee and its subcommittees met the week of January 25, and one of the more significant results of the meeting was that the Category 8 standard—long in development within the TR-42.7 subcommittee focused on copper cabling systems—is just one step away from approval and publication. The standard is in what is known as the default ballot stage, which is the final step before publication. The default ballot was scheduled to be issued after the conclusion of the TR-42 meeting and if that ballot returns no negative votes and no technical comments, the ANSI/TIA-568-C.2-1 Category 8 standard will be published. So, full disclosure, the “one step” that remains for the Category 8 standard may end up being akin to a “dance step” that includes more than one stride and perhaps even a twist. But as the TIA’s ANSI-directed consensus standardization process goes, the Category 8 standard truly is one step away from completion.
It was October 2012 when the TR-42.7 subcommittee decided that its next-generation twisted-pair cabling specifications would be titled Category 8. Its official title will be ANSI/TIA-568-C.2-1 Balanced Twisted-Pair Telecommunications Cabling and Components Standard, Addendum 1: Specifications for 100Ω Category 8 Cabling. In the time since October 2012, TR-42.7 has met frequently to work through the complex technicalities of defining specifications for a cabling channel that will support signal transmission at 2 GHz.
The TIA’s efforts have taken place at the same time that an ISO/IEC standards group, ISO/IEC JTC 1, develops similar component, link and channel specifications. We recently published a “Category 8 questions answered” article, in which Siemon Company’s director of standards and technology Valerie Maguire explained, in part, “Both the ISO/IEC JTC1 and TIA TR-42 are developing requirements for the balanced twisted-pair media that will support the 25GBase-T and 40GBase-T applications that are currently under development by IEEE 802.3. ISO/IEC is developing requirements for Class I cabling constructed from Category 8.1 components, and Class II cabling constructed from Category 8.2 components. TIA is developing requirements for Category 8 cabling constructed from Category 8 components and is also undertaking an initiative to develop Class II cabling requirements that will harmonize with ISO/IEC … Class I, Class II and Category 8 cabling is characterized to 2 GHz and intended to support 30-meter cabling channels that contain no more than two connectors. These channels and the emerging 25/40GBase-T applications that they support are specifically targeted for deployment at the data center ‘edge,’ where server-to-switch connections are made. Data center designers who can arrange their rack and cabinet layouts to support maximum 30-meter channel connections at these locations today will be well-positioned to migrate to 25/40GBase-T when the technology becomes available.”
We will provide updates on the status of the Category 8 standard as we learn of them.
Photo caption: The prestandard Category 8 cable pictured here was introduced by Datwyler in 2013. As of February 2016, the TIA Category 8 standard is one step (default ballot) away from publication.