As innovations such as facial recognition, wide dynamic range, and multi-megapixel images continue to be developed by our industry’s IP camera manufacturers, the issue of the maximum length of UTP Cat5e/6 that can be installed to meet the EIA/TIA standard of 100 meters (328 feet) remains unchanged. This standard originated in the late 1980s and has remained constant for copper conductor Category cables. So while the cable manufacturers have dramatically improved their UTP cables’ performance, the distance standard has remained the same.
To address the connectivity of IP and PoE devices beyond 100 meters, various manufacturers have developed “booster boxes” that can regenerate the Ethernet data packets and also pass PoE power over another length of cable, usually advertised as an additional 100 meters. While such technologies are proven and reliable, they do add a significant cost as the boosters need to be installed and protected within some kind of enclosure, and additional RJ-45 plugs must be terminated.
A hidden cost of such installations is that there may well be additional service calls if and when a booster device fails. It’s a pretty simple equation: more devices = more potential device failures = more system problems = more service calls.
Using standard Cat5e/6 cable past the 100 meter mark adds an unknown element to the network connectivity, and while it may work in some circumstances, you can’t be sure it will always perform as needed.
Paige Electric is a 60-year-old cable manufacturing company. Recently Paige brought on Jim and David Coleman, who are pretty much legendary in the cable manufacturing business, to help guide the company and develop new products.
Recognizing the 100 meter limitation problem, Paige Electric has delivered the “GameChanger” UTP cable. While it is made in the common format of four twisted pair conductors under a jacket, this cable provides greatly extended distances for transmitting Ethernet and PoE. The manufacturer states that the GameChanger cable can carry 1Gbps Ethernet over 200 meters (656 feet) and 10Mbps at 850 feet, while also providing 802.3at PoE powering capability over those distances.
What makes the GameChanger cable different is three manufacturing processes. First, the individual solid conductors are 22 gauge, where common Cat6 is usually 23-24 gauge, which makes for less resistance in the length of the conductors. Special twisting is applied to the pairs to prevent crosstalk, and proprietary jacketing materials are used. On an important side note, the GameChanger cable has no center plastic splice to separate the pairs. Any of us who have installed male RJ-45 plugs onto splined Cat6 cable understand the difficulty in properly terminating the jack; the spline just gets in the way. One note on termination of the GameChanger cable: While you can use your standard RJ-45 crimping tool, it is important that you use Cat6 RJ-45 jacks as they generally have larger feed-through holes that can accept the 22 gauge conductors.
Recently, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) evaluated the cable and has verified the claim that it delivers 1 Gbps performance and PoE+ over 200 meters.
So here we have a cable that can double the distance of IP and PoE without the extra cost of booster boxes and related hardware. The fact that UL has verified the manufacturer’s tests should provide installation companies with the confidence to bid and use GameChanger cable for those long distance device connections.
If you want to witness a live demonstration of the GameChanger cable’s performance, you can visit the Slayton Solutions YouTube channel and watch the “GameChanger” video.
This stuff really works, and can provide dramatic savings in installation labor, equipment costs and future service issues.
Do you like reading Dave’s column? You can read each one online and access the archives for more by Dave by visiting www.SDMmag.com/taxonomies/2253-security-networkings.