Nexans teams up with Bayanat DPS to talk up the virtues of Cat 7 cabling in providing cost effective 10Gigabit copper solutions.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  October 16, 2005

|~|Tarek-Hlemy,-nexans_m.jpg|~|“The market is moving towards 10Gigabit. Active device equipment prices will fall and we expect the price per port to be under US$300 by 2008.” - Tarek Helmy, regional director of Nexans Gulf and Middle East.|~|Nexans, in collaboration with partner Bayanat DPS, recently launched its Cat 7 10Gigabit copper cabling solutions to the region at the Emirates palace hotel in Abu Dhabi in front of an audience of 150 IT supremos from across the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The presence of influential decision makers from large corporations such as Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Emirates Media as well as representatives from large government departments, shows that the momentum for 10Gigabit copper cabling is building. Nexans says it was the first company to deliver standards compliant Cat 7 cabling and is the only vendor to supply a connector that offers backwards compatibility to RJ45 as well as being compliant with Cat 7 requirements. “Fibre manufacturers were saying that 90% of cabling would be fibre by the early 2000s. It hasn’t happened. Copper has endured but it must expand to cope with greater bandwidth demands,” says Mark Rogers, general manager at Nexans. “Cat 7 is the only format established by standards that supports 10Gigabit throughput to 100m,” he adds. Despite the availability of its 10Gigabit solution, Nexans’ regional director for the Middle East cautioned end users to only move to new solutions if circumstances dictate it is necessary. “The number one consideration when buying cabling is what applications will run on the network. High-end environments such as data centres and storage area networks (SAN) require very different cabling infrastructures to an office,” he says. Nexans is targeting high-end environments and enterprises that deploy Gigabit to the desktop and require a 10Gigabit backbone to channel the extra bandwidth. Tarek Helmy, regional director of Nexans Gulf and Middle East believes that 10Gigabit will eventually go to the desktop and predicted that it could start as soon as 2009. He says that companies should consider the potential development of applications in the next 15 years and the bandwidth implications this will have, when pondering which cabling solution to go for. Indeed, the vendor says it has already installed a 10Gigabit backbone in the UAE although it declined to name the customer. “The market is moving towards 10Gigabit. Active device equipment prices will fall and we expect the price per port to be under US$300 by 2008. When you also factor in that virtually all notebooks now feature Gigabit network ports, it’s clear where the industry is heading,” says Helmy. Cat 7 is not the only contender in the 10Gigabit market, with several vendors including Systimax and Belden releasing unshielded twisted pair (UTP) solutions. These Cat 6 products have been released prior to Cat 6 UTP cabling being standardised for 10Gigabit throughput over 100m. Nexans says that customers should be wary of these solutions and read the “warranty fine print” and emphasises that only Cat 7 has the headroom to unconditionally support 10Gigabit. “UTP Cat 6 cabling has traditionally held several benefits when compared to Cat 7 cabling but these are being eroded as vendors adapt Cat 6 cabling to handle 10Gigabit,” says Helmy. “Cat 6 is no longer necessarily smaller, cheaper, more flexible or easier to install,” he adds. Alien crosstalk issues have placed a considerable barrier in front of UTP vendors trying to come up with 10Gigabit solutions. Many UTP vendors say they have surmounted these issues but customer doubts will remain until the 10GBASE-T standard (which concerns 10Gigabit transmission over copper up to 100m) is ratified. Helmy says the standard is on schedule to be completed by the summer of 2006. End users at the event differed in how quickly they are looking to implement 10 Gigabit copper cabling. The National Drilling Company (NDC) sees the technology as part of its long term plan. “We are laying groundwork that will allow us to move to 10Gigabit in a phased manner. We will evaluate it for the data centre environment but we have not set any time frames,” says Imad Daouk, head of IT infrastructure at NDC. Emirates Media, in contrast, is looking at 10Gigabit as more of a pressing need. “In a media organisation today there is need for 10Gigabit. We have a media anywhere concept, which makes moving media between departments very important. In the past this would have been accomplished by ‘sneaker net’ or other non-electronic means,” says Derek Holland, head of Information Technology at Emirates Media. Emirates Media is talking to several systems integrators with a view to fulfilling its next generation of cabling needs. The company’s infrastructure has been built up over many years and includes a wide variety of cabling types including Cat 3, Cat 5 and Cat 6. Network security supervisor at Emirates Media Neville Bryan says the infrastructure was often put together in a piecemeal way with not much regard for future proofing. The current IT team is now taking a more strategic approach, consolidating cabling and gearing up for the future. For Emirates Media, the systems integrator is often a key contact for IT implementations as they can provide a deeper level of support than vendors, often being able to be on-site within 30 minutes. “In this region the systems integrator is often more important than the vendor and often drives projects. That said, we also do our own homework, often dealing with the manufacturer first, then selecting an integrator, it varies on a case-by-case basis. Here, we are talking through Bayanat DPS but at Gitex we also approached the vendors,” says Bryan. The Emirates IT team are still debating which solution to go for and will bear standards in mind, among other issues. “People can get caught up in standards,” says Holland. “They can cloud what are your main objectives. Saying that, of course they are important. We’re asking questions such as are the products, services and solutions there for Cat 7? Does augmented Cat 6 deliver right now?” The key dilemma as the need for 10Gigabit transmission grows will continue to be whether to go for shielded or unshielded cabling solutions. There is no doubt that Cat 7 has the extra headroom but Nexans concedes that Cat 6a solutions will typically be cheaper and with a large UTP installed base in the region, it would be foolish to write off either technology prematurely.||**||

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