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Should the 10G Metallic Cabling Be Shielded or Not?

5/17/2013, Pavel Radkovský
Have you been thinking of implementing the cabling for 10G? Do you want to know whether the shielded or unshielded version is better? Go ahead and read the following article!
We have already mentioned the components of the structured cabling supporting the new protocol for metallic data networks. Currently, there is as final version of the 6A category standard available already (e.g. the ANSI/TIA/EIA-B.2-10 was approved in February 2008), which is designed for convenient operations of this new high-speed protocol.

Therefore, the customer requesting the full compatibility of the 10 GB/s infrastructure is presented with a decision whether to choose the cable and connecting hardware of the 6A category in the shielded or the unshielded version. At least partially, the answer to this dilemma has been already presented in the above-mentioned article:

"In the case of UTP cabling of the 6A category, it seems that reaching the 10Gbps speeds within the entire line could pose some problems. The components mainly from the US manufacturers, strongly oriented on the unshielded cabling, just verify that. The already mentioned Alien CrossTalk plays important role in this limitation. With regard to the design structure, it is not easy to deal with the Alien CrossTalk within the various cables in a single cable bundle.
Therefore, it seems that currently the trend in the case of 10 GB Metallic Cable Ethernet will continue more likely in the direction of the shielded cabling. The shielded cabling, as opposed to the UTP components, enables the safe elimination of Alien CrossTalk. On the markets, this trend can be also expected to be dominated by UTP cabling. The Czech Republic can be mentioned as an example, where the most of the cabling systems manufacturers offering the solutions for 10GBaseT, including the Solarix a Signamax, decided to deploy the 10G shielded solution despite the fact that the Czech Republic is the market with the heavy preference for UTP components."

The mentioned quotation indicates the trend the manufacturers of the cabling systems had decided to follow. In fact, most of these systems offer the solution for 10GBaseT in the 6A category with the shielded version. This is the basic overview of the benefits of the shielded solution for 10G against the unshielded one:

  • Significantly Better Resistance against the So-Called Alien CrossTalk – the shielded components provide better characteristic than the unshielded components from the viewpoint of the resistance against Alien CrossTalk. In this case, the actual cable presents the most significant difference, where the unshielded cable features a more complex design with weaker effects on elimination of Alien CrossTalk in comparison with the shielded cables.
  • Less Complex Installation – the shielding provides the installation companies with better security against installing the incorrect solution, which could affect the Alien CrossTalk – i.e., in most cases, the installation procedures with the 6A category in the shielded version do not differ from the existing ones. In the case of the UTP cabling installation for 10G, it will be necessary to maintain the maximum number of the cables in the bundle, their minimum distance from each other, etc.
  • Simpler Measurements – only the so-called In-Channel Measurement will be able to be deployed within the most of the shielded systems. This measuring method is equal to the method of testing the 5E and 6 categories cabling systems today – meaning that each segment is measured individually within the Permanent Link topology. In addition, with the unshielded installations of the 6A category, it will be necessary to perform yet another type of measuring, which will detect the effects of the interference caused by Alien CrossTalk – i.e. the crosstalk is measured between the cables within the cable bundle. This second part of measuring is quite complicated and the other equipment is needed, including the software for the Alien CrossTalk measurements, in addition to the actual measuring device supporting the 6A category. In the case of unshielded 6A category installation, another essential element for measuring the Alien CrossTalk at the installation point will be the notebook, on which the evaluation of the parameters will be performed, which relate to the Alien CrossTalk – i.e. PSANEXT and PS-ACRF (we will mention these parameters next time).
  • Cheaper Installation – even though the actual components of the shielded 6A category are more expensive than the unshielded ones, the result will be the cheaper cabling, as opposed to the unshielded one. This fact, for example, relates to the capacity of the cable trenches (UTP cables of the 6A category are larger on average than the unshielded ones), professional training of the companies and their employees, larger number of switchboards (e.g. the 24-port panel CAT6A UTP the size of 2U versus the 24-port panel CAT6A STP 1U), accessories in the switchboards (larger number of the bundles means more elements for the cable management), etc.
  • Higher Reliability – even the best UTP solutions for the 6A category will not provide such reliability and resistance against interference as the shielded solutions would.

Briefly about the 10G Solarix 10G and Signamax 10G Solutions

In the case of the Solarix and Signamax cabling systems, these are the product series of Solarix 10G and Signamax 10G. They all feature the problem-free components conforming to the 10GbaseT protocol. These solutions consist of the shielded modular patch panel, high-quality shielded keystone modules of the 6A category, dual-shielded patch cables of the 6A category, and high-quality, dual-shielded installation cable of the 7 category with LSOH casing. The advantage of these components is their reliability, simple installation, perfect output parameters, and very affordable price. The quality shielding of all elements is secured via the maximum resistance of the transmitted signal against the Alien CrossTalk effect, which, as mentioned earlier, can significantly negatively improve the correct data transfer. All Solarix and Signamax product are certified by the German GHMT Laboratory for the 6A category, for both the Permanent Link and Channel.
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