Ethernet Questions

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a type of Network cabling and signaling specification, originally developed by Xerox in the late 1970’s for commercial building telecommunication and computer cabling systems. Up until the late 1980’s thick or thin Coaxial cable was used for 10 Mbps Ethernet networks, around this time twisted pair cabling became more commonly used since it was easier to install and less expensive.

ProPlex PCCAT5P and PCCAT5EP were designed specifically for the harsh environment found within the entertainment industry, constant coiling, resistant to abuse, environmental conditions, and abrasion etc.

What official standard organizations cover Ethernet cabling products?

IEEE; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Committee 802.

TIA; Telecommunication Industry Association.

EIA; Electronic Industries Alliance.

IEC; International Electrotechnical Committee.

ISO; International Organization for Standardization. (ISO is taken from the Greek word ‘ISOS’ meaning ‘equal’ maintaining international equilibrium.)

ANSI; American National Standards Institute. ANSI do not itself develop American National standards, rather it facilitates development, establishing consensus amongst qualified groups. ANSI promotes the use of the standards internationally and encourages the adoption of the standards internationally.

ANSI was a founder member of ISO and a member of the IEC Governing Committee of Action.

ProPlex PCCAT5P and PCCAT5EP are ETL Verified.

What is the difference between the types UTP, FTP AND SFTP?

UTP, FTP AND SFTP are terms used when discussing the typical specification style of Ethernet cables. All these references offer is whether the Ethernet cable in discussion is shielded or not, and if shielding exists, what type of shielding is applied in the basic structure of the cable.

UTP; Unshielded.

FTP; Aluminum-Mylar Foil Shield.

SFTP; inner Aluminum-Mylar Foil Shield, covered by an outer tinned copper braid shield.
ProPlex PCCAT5P and PCCAT5EP have maximum shielding; 100% Aluminum-Mylar foil shield with an outer 80% tinned copper braid shield-SFTP.

What is Patch cable?

Ethernet cable systems use two types of conductor wire types. The main ‘trunk’ cable uses a solid piece of wire as the conductor (solid conductor), this conductor is not flexible and will break after repeated flexing. It is suitable for installation purposes only in long cable run lengths. This ‘trunk’ cable is often referred to as the ‘Backbone cable’.

A ‘Patch’ cable uses stranded conductors (numerous thinner gauges of wire helixed to form the electrical conductor), the insulated wire is flexible and is used to interconnect (or Patch) the Backbone cable to the ‘Desktop’ equipment in short cable run lengths.

Stranded conductors offer lower electrical performance than solid conductors.

ProPlex PCCAT5P and PCCAT5EP have stranded conductors and hence are classed as ‘Patch’ cables, however their electrical performance is consistent with the ‘backbone’ cables.

What is the difference between 10Base 5, 10Base T, 100BaseT and 1000BaseT?

Ethernet cable terminology refers to the rate of signaling in bits and its baseband (vs. broadband) electrical format. The post-fixed character varies in meaning.

10Base5 is the original IEEE 802.3 'ThickNet" RG-8/U coaxial Ethernet Cable. Ethernet had a 10Mbit/s rate, used baseband signaling and could propagate a maximum of 500m as a segment (if not repeated) and required termination at the farthest end of a daisy-chain of client connections.

10BaseT differs from 10Base5 in employing differential baseband signaling across two twisted pairs in a 4 pair Category 3 (CAT3) cable. The signaling retains the 10Mbit/s rate of its 10Base5 precursor. Significantly, 10BaseT networks deploys as a star configuration from a central hub or switch, reducing the strategic planning and 'stub' lengths typical of 10Base5 lineal daisy chain implementation.

100BaseT employs a 100MB/s signal rate retaining the baseband electrical and the star configurational formats of its 10BaseT precursor. A version of this format defines Category 5 (CAT5) cable for interconnection, employs 3 voltage levels to encode a symbol, and is referred to as 100BaseTX.

1000BaseT increases the signaling rate to 1000Mb/s (1 gigabit/second) while retaining the baseband electrical format and star configuration. Commonly referred to as Gigabit Ethernet, the twisted pair cable implementation requires Category 5e (CAT5e) cabling and employs all 4 pairs within its connecting cable in a bi-directional half-duplex fashion where all pairs transmit simultaneously and then reverse their sense to receive simultaneously.

What does the abbreviation ‘Base’ mean?

`Baseband'. A Baseband network is one that provides a single channel for communications across the physical medium e.g. cable, so only one device can transmit at a time. Devices on a Baseband network are permitted to use all available bandwidth for transmission.

The opposite of `Baseband' is `Broadband'. Broadband implements multiple channels typically using Frequency or Time Division Multiplexing techniques. A typical example of a `Broadband' network is Cable or Satellite TV.

ProPlex PCCAT5P and PCCAT5EP are both Baseband cables.

What is the maximum length of Ethernet cable runs?

This is a little understood characteristic.

Ethernet cables are evaluated either as "channel" or "link" entities. All XBaseT networks assume (by IEEE specification) 100m as the maximum physical length of a full `channel'. This channel is expected to be configured with 90m of the horizontal premise (backbone "home run") cabling and 10m distributed in two 5m lengths at each end of the of the "home run" to connect to the client and switch/hub interconnection.

When testing a XBaseT connection from a Patch Bay to a client end, a Link Test is performed using test connections which are calibrated to conform parametrically as the 5m "patch" ends of a 100m channel.

When testing a XBaseT Channel connection, test equipment assumes the full 100m is to be tested to conform parametrically with the appropriate IEEE specification.

What is the difference between a ‘Straight through’ cable and a ‘Cross-over’ Cable?

Twisted pair Ethernet cables are constructed using 4-color coded twisted pairs (8-conductors), and terminated with RJ45 plug connectors. The standards state that Ethernet cables should be terminated with specific colors on specific pins of the RJ45 plug.

There are 2 standard pin layouts. If a cable has the same layout on both ends it is a `straight through' cable; if the cable has one layout on one end, and the other layout on the other end it is a `cross-over' cable.

Standard EIA/TIA-568 defines the two pin-layouts for `straight-through' RJ45 terminated assemblies. They are called, 1] EIA/TIA-568A and 2] EIA/TIA-568B, the latter now being globally accepted as the default wiring standard for `straight-through' cables.

A `cross-over' cable comprises of one end terminated in accordance to EIA/TIA568-A and the opposite end being terminated in accordance to EIA/TIA568-B. ProPlex `straight through' assemblies are terminated in accordance to EIA/TIA568-B both ends.

What do the CATegories define?

Categories define a cable by type, application and in the higher numeric cables by electrical performance.

Category 1 (CAT1) cable never really existed by that name but is understood as standard voice only, telephone cable.

Category 2 (CAT2) cable was the preferred cable for IBM token ring and Datapoint's ArcNet both early network implementations super-ceded in popularity by Ethernet.

Category 3 (CAT3) cable is standardized by EIA/TIA-568-B specification. This was the common cabling of 10BaseT.

Category 4 (CAT4) cable is a seldom specified cable type used in `Token Ring' or 10Base-T4 baseband networks.

Category 5 (CAT5) was defined by TIA/EIA-568-A and comprises the majority share of historical network cabling for 100BaseT networks.

Category 5e (CAT5e) is an evolved CAT5 type cabling with enhanced specification as defined by TIA/EIA-568B.2-2001. 1000BaseT is designed for operability with CAT5e cable.

Category 6 (CAT6) is intended to be a parametrically enhanced, backward compatible, cable standard for Gigabit and 10Gigabit Ethernet.

What is the difference between CAT5 and CAT5E?

CAT5e is an enhanced (hence the `e') CAT5 cable. Most notably, far end and near end crosstalk (FEXT/NEXT) are more stringently specified.

Both cable types share bandwidth requirement of 100MHz, impedance of 100Ω and maximum channel length of 100m.

CAT5E is the preferred choice for Gigabit Ethernet. While CAT5 is the historical cable for 100BaseT.

The enhanced electrical performance of CAT5E ensures that the cable will support applications that require additional bandwidth such as gigabit Ethernet or analogue video.

PCCAT5P is a CAT5 cable. PCCAT5EP is a CAT5E cable and supports Gigabit Ethernet.

What is the typical construction and number of wires used in Ethernet cables?

Whether the conductor is solid or stranded, twisted pair Ethernet cables are constructed with 8-wires, assembled into 4-twisted pairs.

Minimum Conductor sizes differ across Category cables with CAT5 having a minimum of 26 AWG; CAT5E 24 AWG; CAT6 23 AWG.

The pairs are laid-up, in the case of a UTP cable directly under the outer jacket. In the case of FTP and SFTP the pairs are laid-up, the applicable shields are applied over the assembled pairs and an overall jacket applied.

ProPlex PCCAT5P is a 4-twisted pair, 26 awg stranded, foil and braid shield cable.
ProPlex PCCAT5EP is a 4-twisted pair, 24 awg stranded, foil and braid shield cable.

Why is ProPlex Ethernet classified as a ‘Patch’ cable?

A stranded conductor Ethernet cable is classified by IEEE as a Patch cable ONLY, suitable with a maximum run length of 10 meter maximum. There are NO standards or tests to-date allowing for stranded conductors performing as Horizonal (backbone) cables.

ProPlex Ethernet cable was developed over a 2-year period, and resulted in a stranded conductor (flexible) cable capable of `solid conductor' Ethernet cable performance. Since the conductor is stranded, it must be classified as a Patch cable to comply with IEEE regulations.

What makes ProPlex Ethernet superior to all other Ethernet cables on the Market?

The standard ‘market’ Ethernet cables are designed for commercial building applications, telecommunication and computer networks. The backbone cables have solid conductors and are neither flexible, durable or designed for portable applications. Constant coiling and pulling on these cables would easily break the conductors.
The jacket is typically a gray PVC jacketed cable rated for indoor installation purposes only.

ProPlex PCCAT5P and ProPlex PCCAT5EP advantages.

ProPlex Ethernet is unique; it is designed for strength, durability and electrical performance to equal the harsh environmental conditions it is likely to be subjected to in portable touring situations.

1] Stranded conductors for maximum flexibility, having electrical performance equal to that of solid conductor Ethernet cables. The stranded conductor prevents any potential breakage during coiling purposes and hence enables the signal to continue un-disturbed.

2] Maximum shielding; foil and braid shielding giving maximum EMI protection. The braid also offers mechanical protection, strength, and aids in its flexibility.

3] Strength members are laid up under the shields, amongst the twisted pairs to maintain the pairs twist, and hence electrical performance. They strengthen the cable core and avoid elongation of the conductors during coiling functions.

4] A tough Black Polyurethane jacket is applied over the outer shield, the jacket is very durable, and resistant to cut, abrasion, UV, most organic and inorganic compounds, and a wide range of chemicals.

5] Suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments.

Is ProPlex Ethernet suitable for constant coiling and ‘reeling’ applications?


There are installation guidelines to follow for reeling purpose.
1] The minimum reel core diameter is 10cm.
2] Minimum tension is used during reeling and the unreeling process.
3] Terminate the cable with RJ45 plugs before reeling is initiated.
4] Cable length per reel is less than 90 meters.
5] Recommended to use ruggedized RJ45 connectors such as RJLnxx, RJ Field or Neutrik Ethercon for maximum support.

In the core level, under the shields, are 4–twisted pairs and 6 strength members. Two strength members are positioned centrally to perform ‘Tension Relief’ function; the other 4 strength members are twisted around the pairs, each pair being wrapped individually by one of the strength members to perform a ‘Pair Structure Holding’ function.

The length of the strength members remains constant and equal to the length of the insulated wires.

What do the electrical parameters actually mean?

The degree of signal amplitude decrease (or loss), measured in Decibels.

BPS (Bits per second)
The basic unit of measurement for serial data transmission capacity. Certain modulation schemes allow a single communicated bit to represent more than 1 bit of final information data. In this case it represents a symbol which is issued to a decoder/demodulator which recovers the intended communicated data.

1,000,000 Bits per second.

The unwanted induction of signal from one circuit to another.

NEXT (Near End Cross Talk)
A figure of merit for the degree of cross talk occurring at the cable end nearest the test device, often the result of the connector or its method of termination.

A figure of merit Measured in Ohms. A uniform transmission line (cable) of an arbitrary length of cable will have no standing waves or reflections from the end and a constant frequency at every point on the cable. Impedance is made up of Resistance, Inductance, Capacitance and Conductance inherent in a cable.

The property of an electrical charge between positive and negative conductors. This is measured by the amount of separated electrical charge that can be stored. Measured in Pico-Farad. In our case it relates the measurement between the conductor and the shield. A low capacitance is what we require.

What is the standard thickness of gold plating on an RJ45 plug contact?

50 microns, to maintain true IEEE electrical performance.
Be careful, there are RJ45 plugs available on the market with only 5-10 micron thickness of Gold plating.
All RJ45 plugs used on ProPlex assemblies have a 50-micron Gold plating on the contacts.

Can ProPlex perform in Sub-Zero temperatures?

Although the compounds used in the manufacture of the cables are rated for constant operation at minus 25 degree C, the actual electrical performance at these temperatures has not been tested.

Do Male to Female Ethernet assemblies exist?

No, ALL cable mount connectors are Male RJ45 plugs. ALL chassis’ are the female receptacle (Jack). To extend an Ethernet run a Female-Female adaptor is required, Neutrik NE8FF.




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