Cable controversy

In this month’s bumper issue, we decided to feature something a little bit different; a debate between two of the largest data cabling companies we could find, with a global presence

Tags: CommScope IncorporationSiemon
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Cable controversy
By  Georgina Enzer Published  October 24, 2012

In this month’s bumper issue, we decided to feature something a little bit different; a debate between two of the largest data cabling companies we could find, with a global presence, over the benefits of shielded twisted pair (STP) cabling versus unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling in 10GBASE-T networks.

The two international data cabling companies, CommScope and Siemon, have diametrically opposing views on which cabling type is best suited to these networks and both have put forward succinct arguments as to which cable type is the best to use and why.

To shield cabling or not to shield cabling is a very old question, which has recently resurfaced in the data cabling industry because of the challenges posed in creating a cabling system to support 10G BASE-T networks.

The pros and cons of adding an additional electrically conducting screen or shield around the signal carrying conductors is nothing new at all. It is used for high electrically noisy environments to avert electromagnetic interference or emissions and it is used to screen emission from very high frequency telecommunications applications.

Both shielded and unshielded cables have their place, and one needs to select the correct cabling according to the application and the planned environment for the deployment.

According to CommScope, unshielded twisted pair cables have the benefits of being cost effective, without grounding complications or costs and traditional construction and installation. Siemon says that the drawbacks include; a sensitivity to alien crosstalk through mishandling or poor installation practices, a higher potential need to perform time-consuming and complex field testing for alien crosstalk to trouble shoot unshielded twisted pair channels and length de-rating based on higher temperatures, which can reduce unshielded twisted pair lengths for full compliance to category 6A insertion loss requirements.

On the other hand, according to Siemon, the benefits of shielded twisted pair cabling include superior electromagnetic performance, superior immunity against interference from radio frequency transmitters and wireless devices at high frequencies and, according to the company an overall shield is the most effective deterrent to alien crosstalk because it serves as a barrier that reduces electromagnetic emissions from within the cable and blocks interference from other cables.

The drawbacks, according to CommScope, include that shielded twisted pair cabling requires electrical grounding on every cable and connection, requires a quality grounding system in the building and is very craft sensitive for installation and the resulting performance.

While this may seem complex, what is clear is that whatever cabling type an enterprise chooses for its network, both unshielded twisted pair and shielded twisted pair cables have their benefits and drawbacks and every enterprise must do their research to decide which cable type is best for their particular enterprise application.

To add your voice to this debate, and let us know which cable type you think is best suited to 10GBASE-T networks in the Middle East region, you will find the article on ITP.net entitled ‘The great cabling debate’.

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