Network Cabling

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Ethernet

  • A link is only as fast as its slowest physical component. A Cat 6 cable terminated to a Cat 5 patch panel will run at 10Gbps max.

Termination

Cat 5 and 5e use the same type of plug. A Cat 6 plug is quite different (even though it looks similar at a glance).

  • Cat 5/5e: Same plug terminator.
  • Cat 6: plug's load bar has more internal space to accommodate thicker coating/shielding on each individual copper wire. Wire-guides are staggered in an upper and lower row to provide that space and to lower interference. Blades are thinner.
  • If you try to terminate cat6 in a cat5e plug, you may have to cram to get the wires in (especially with solid cable). Open and shorted lines in test results are also common. At best, it will likely run at cat5e speeds, not cat6.
  • Also, make sure your plug supports the cable type you're using: Stranded or Solid (see below). Some plugs support both, but others are designed for only one or the other. Solid cable won't fit well in a stranded-only plug.
  • Untwist the cable pairs and straighten the individual lines, then trim them back so that the jacket fits up into the plug and gets gripped and takes the strain. Make sure you cut lines at a 90-degree angle so all wires are the same length.
  • Good guide: http://www.computercablestore.com/cat6-patch-cables1.aspx

Solid/Stranded/Plenum

There are 3 types of cat6 cable.

Type Description
Stranded Stranded is primarily used for building patch cables. The core of the conductors is comprised of many strands of copper enabling greater flexibility without damaging the copper conductor cores.
Solid Solid cable is primarily used for in-wall or permanent applications. The copper conductor cores are comprised of a single solid strand of copper. This allows for greater transmission distances, however, it can not be flexed repeatedly without causing damage.
Plenum Plenum is primarily used for in-wall or permanent applications where the local building codes require that plenum be used. Plenum is essentially the same as solid except the jacketing is comprised of a PVC Teflon mix. This plenum jacket is a low smoke/flame retardant jacket that reduces the amount of toxic fumes that are released into the air in case of a fire.

Fiber

Single-mode vs. Multi-mode

  • We use multi-mode fiber to connect MDFs and IDFs.
  • Single-mode is more commonly used by ISPs. Compared to multi-mode, it supports longer distances, and uses more expensive equipment (though the cabling itself may be cheaper).

Fiber Connectors

Connector Type
LC
ST
SC

Fiber Specifications

  • OM1: 62.5-micrometer Core Diameter/125-micrometer Cladding Diameter
    • Legacy, originally designed for 100Mbps FDDI.
  • OM2: 50-micrometer Core Diameter/125-micrometer Cladding Diameter
    • Legacy.
  • OM3 and OM4: Laser-Optimized 50-micrometer Core Diameter/125-micrometer Cladding Diameter
    • Recommended for new fiber installations

Terminating Fiber Links: How-To