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BICSI news

may/june 2013 l volume 34, number 3 M a g a z i n e

Cable sharing
A Unique, Innovative Category 7 A Application

+ Data Center Consolidation
+ School Safety & Security
+ Deploying a Passive Optical Network
by Robert Carlson

Cable sharing
A Unique, Innovative Category 7 A Application

Electronic reprint with permission from BICSI News Magazine-May/June 2013 Issue

When using the IEC

61076-3-104 category
7A non- RJ-style
connector, up to four
applications can be shared
over a single cable.

After much debate, the Telecom- category 7A (class FA) is a fully-shielded

munications Industry Association (TIA) system characterized up to a bandwidth
TR-42.7 Copper Cabling Subcommittee of 1000 megahertz (MHz). It was
adopted “category 8” as the nomencla- preceded by category 7 (class F) cabling,
ture of their next generation balanced which was ratified by ISO/IEC in 2002
twisted-pair cabling system to eventually and characterized up to a bandwidth of
support 40 gigabits per second (Gb/s) 600 MHz. For the purpose of this article,
over a 2-connector channel up to at we will refer to category 7A , as it is the
least 30 meters (m [98 feet (ft)]). TIA latest category 7 standard.
moving consecutively from category ISO/IEC specifies two connector
6A to category 8 has the potential to options for category 7A—an RJ-style
cause some confusion in the industry, connector as defined by IEC 60603-7-7
and some may be asking, “What about and a non-RJ-style connector as defined
category 7?” by IEC 61073-3-104. The RJ-style con-
IT managers and end users can nector features internal category 6A
rest assured that there is indeed an and 7A circuits. Its category 6A circuit is
existing standards-based category 7 and backwards compatible in that it accepts
category 7A. Moreover, category 7/7A the 8-position, 8-contact (8p8c) RJ-style
offers the benefit of interference-free modular plug interface used in category
cable sharing—the practice of running 6A and lower category cabling. Its cat-
more than one application over different egory 7A circuit is activated by the inser-
pairs of a twisted-pair copper channel as tion of a special non-RJ-style plug that
a means to reduce cost, simplify cable engages with contacts located in the four
management and converge applications outside corners of the jack (see Figure 1).
onto a single media type.

A Standards-Based Concept
Category 7A is the highest grade of
twisted-pair copper cabling supported by
a published performance standard. It is a
popular choice for the European market,
and it has been gaining significant
ground in the U.S. and other regions
such as Latin America. Ratified in 2010 Robert Carlson is a vice president
by the International Organization for for Siemon in Watertown, CT.
Standardization (ISO) under Amendment Figure 1: RJ-style (IEC 60603-7-7) interface outlet contact positions (category He can be reached at
2 of ISO/IEC, 11801, 2nd edition, 6A and lower uses dashed-line positions; category 7/7A uses solid-line positions)
outlet. However, in addition to
accepting a 4-pair cord, the non-
RJ-style outlet can also accept four
1-pair cords, two 2-pair cords, or a
combination of the two—without
the need for splitters or adapters.
This flexibility allows various
applications to be converged onto a
single cable, decreasing the amount
of cabling and required pathway
Figure 2: Non- RJ-style (IEC 61073-3-104) Figure 3: The non-RJ-style connector interface (IEC 61073-3-104) space associated with multiple runs
interface contact positions specified by ISO/IEC for category 7 and 7A features an isolated that use lesser grade cabling.
quadrant design that better accommodates cable sharing.
Modular cords supporting cable
sharing are terminated on one end
The non-RJ-style connector features one cable. In fact, standards caution with either a 1-, 2- or 4-pair non-
an isolated quadrant contact design that, when deciding which applica- RJ-style connector that fits into
(see Figure 2). It fits into a standard tions can share a UTP cable, users one, two or all four quadrants of
RJ-45-sized modular jack opening should be aware that crosstalk from the IEC 61076-3-104 category 7A
and is backwards compatible with applications operating in similar connector. The other end of the
category 6A and lower category frequency bands can potentially modular cord is terminated to
cabling via hybrid patch cords. interfere with one another. On the an appropriately wired interface
The non-RJ-style design offers other hand, fully-shielded category connector, such as an RJ-11 plug for
a standardized interface that 7A cabling guarantees that there is voice or an RJ-45 plug for Ethernet
provides innovative cable sharing sufficient noise isolation between (see Figure 4). Cords with integrated
capabilities. pairs to support multiple applica- baluns or modular connections to
Cable sharing is the practice of tions, or the multiple appearance
running more than one application of any one application, over a four-
over different pairs of a twisted- pair channel.
pair copper cable. Common legacy Some standards, such as ISO/
examples of cable sharing include IEC 15018, specifically recommend
running twelve 10 megabits-per- that cable sharing be considered
second (Mb/s) channels over one when pathway space is limited and
25-pair cable or using y-adapters identify the non-RJ-style category
(splitters) to break out pairs for 7A interface (IEC 61073-3-104)
creating separate voice and fax as the preferred connector style
lines over a single cable. for this application. The interface
Although the practice of cable features an isolated quadrant design
sharing has been accepted by tele- that allows easy access to one or
communications professionals two pairs of a channel to better
for more than two decades and accommodate cable sharing (see
was recognized in TIA and ISO Figure 3).
standards as early as 1991, cable
sharing did not start gaining Share and Share Alike
popularity until the adoption of When using the IEC 61076-
fully-shielded cabling systems like 3-104 category 7A non-RJ-style
category 7A. This is because the connector, up to four applications
amount of internal crosstalk can be shared over a single cable.
coupling (both near-end and This ability is uniquely enabled
far-end) in unshielded twisted-pair by both the cable and connector
(UTP) cabling systems makes it construction. As with any category
difficult for users to predict whether 7A cabling channel, all four shielded Figure 4: Modular cords supporting cable sharing can be terminated
multiple applications can coexist in pairs are terminated to a single with 4-, 2- and 1-pair non- RJ-style connectors.

Electronic reprint with permission from BICSI News Magazine-May/June 2013 Issue
words, five outlets at the work area
Application Number of Pairs could serve all four agents versus
eight individual outlets. In this
Analog Voice 1 scenario, a call center can typically
Voice over IP 2 realize a cost savings in excess
of 10 percent for materials and a
Video over IP 2 39 percent reduction in the total
number of outlets.
CATV 1 w/balun When designing cable sharing
CCTV 1 w/balun solutions, it is critical to plan for
the types of applications to be
10/100BASE-T 2 supported and understand their
equipment lifecycles. It is important
Table 1: Typical cable sharing applications in high-density work area environments to ensure that the cabling
infrastructure can support future
applications and upgrades. As a
F-type balun adapters can be used speed applications or one 4-pair
result, the recommended practice
for 1-pair video applications like high-speed data application like
for all cable sharing solutions is
cable TV (CATV). In fact, class FA 1000 Mb/s (1000BASE-T) or 10 Gb/s
to provide a minimum of one
is the appropriate grade of cabling Ethernet (10GBASE-T).
dedicated outlet for data and one
for supporting all channels of A two-outlet work area using
outlet for other low-speed 1- and
digital CATV (up to approximately two category 7A non-RJ-style
2-pair applications. This helps to
700 MHz) because of its extended connectors can support several
ease migration to high speed data
frequency characterization. As more applications than a typical
applications that require all four
with coaxial implementations, two-outlet work area supported
pairs for transmission.
depending upon the incoming by lower category cabling and can
signal strength, length of the do so in a less wasteful manner.
cabling run and the highest and Specifically, the unused pairs that Putting Cable Sharing
lowest channel being distributed, would be present if a 4-pair channel to Work
amplification may be required to was dedicated to an application Located in the north-central
support some CATV deployments transmitting over just one, two, area of South Carolina, the
over twisted-pair cabling. BNC-type or three pairs are eliminated, City of Rock Hill is a growing
balun adapters are also available to significantly decreasing the number community of 67,000 residents
facilitate closed-circuit TV (CCTV) of cables required and subsequently that encompasses more than 36
applications. reducing pathway costs and cable square miles. The city is a business-
While most commercial management complexity. Table 1 savvy blend of historic charm
environments provide a minimum shows some typical 1- and 2-pair and responsibly implemented
of two outlets at each work area per applications that can easily be expansion, and it is the only major
industry standards, there are some supported with cable sharing. South Carolina city in the Charlotte
environments that need to support Cable sharing implementation area. When the municipally-owned
more than two applications at a practices are extremely flexible Rock Hill Utilities Department
work area. For example, in health and support a wide range of decided to construct a new
care facilities, some patient recovery configurations. For example, three-building campus to house
rooms require more than 15 consider a call center where four administration offices, a shop and a
applications at a single work area. agents arranged in a work group warehouse, they needed a versatile
Many of these high-density work each need an analog phone and an network to support everything from
areas only need to support low- Internet connection. The work area video, voice over Internet protocol
speed applications. With the cable outlet for this group could contain (VoIP) and analog telephony, to
sharing capabilities of category 7A one category 7A non-RJ-style CATV, video surveillance, IP radio
and the IEC 61076-3-104 non-RJ- connector to support four 1-pair and data.
style connector, a single outlet can analog phones and four additional “We typically would put four
support multiple 1- and 2-pair low- outlets for high-speed data. In other outlets at each work area to support

Electronic reprint with permission from BICSI News Magazine-May/June 2013 Issue
City of Rock Hill Utilities Department in South Carolina deployed cable sharing to support everything from video, VoIP and analog telephony, to CATV, video surveillance, IP radio and data.

a variety of applications, including implementing cable sharing, the to support CATV, surveillance and
a coaxial outlet for video. We Rock Hill Utilities Department was other video applications on runs of
need to keep track of the weather able to significantly cut down on less than 175 feet.
and other important emergency the amount of cabling, outlets and “Rather than having four
information via CATV, while also labor required. Through the use outlets at each work area, we were
supporting video for training of hybrid cords terminated to an able to go down to just two,” says
and digital signage,” said Brenda F-type connector and featuring an Larry Williams of the City’s ITS
Roof, with the City’s information integrated balun, they were also department. “For most of our users,
technology systems (ITS) depart- able to eliminate the use of coax one outlet provides two pairs for a
ment. “Although we had budgeted
for a category 6A system, when I
came across the concept of cable
sharing using category 7A with the
non-RJ-style connector, it looked
extremely versatile.”
After conducting thorough
research on category 7A and cable
sharing, including meeting with
technical experts, Roof was able
to convince her superiors that the
solution was ideal to support their
needs. “It wasn’t an easy decision,”
she said. “When we first went out
for bid, I was the odd one out.
Most of the cabling contractors
were pushing us towards category
6A.” Roof stuck to her guns and
ultimately found a manufacturer
able to support her decision to
deploy category 7A and cable
sharing, including providing onsite
training and certification for the
installers and the City’s ITS and
Utility staff.
By deploying the non-RJ-
style category 7A connectors and

Electronic reprint with permission from BICSI News Magazine-May/June 2013 Issue
and a low impedance path to
ground. The outer shield picks up
S/FTP low-frequency noise from external
sources and effectively conducts
it to ground, providing superior
Cable sheath resistance to electromagnetic
interference and radio frequency
braid/mesh screen interference (EMI/RFI) common in a
variety of environments like health
care and industrial facilities.
foil screen
While category 8 may now
be on the horizon, category 7A
is an existing standards-based
pair system that provides the benefits
of cable sharing, higher bandwidth
capacity and EMI/RFI immunity
over 100 meters. Up to 1000 MHz,
proposed performance limits for
category 8 do not currently meet
those specified for category 7A. ISO/
10/100BASE-T connection to the the shop and 42 in the warehouse. IEC is already looking toward the
computer and two pairs for a VoIP “The system is now up and run- future of fully-shielded cabling.
phone. We then have the additional ning, and if I had the chance to The nearly finalized IEC 61076-3-
four pairs in the second outlet to do it over again, I would pick the 104, 3rd edition, will extend the
support a variety of other devices same system and use cable sharing,” performance of the IEC 61073-
like printers, analog phones and says Roof. 3-104 category 7A non-RJ-style
fax machines or for migrating to a connector out to 2 GHz—the same
4-pair 1000BASE-T connection.” Even More to Share frequency tentatively proposed for
For CATV and other video Category 7A provides additional
category 8.
applications, the Rock Hill Utilities benefits besides cable sharing
Until the signal processing
Department is able to support up capabilities. Due to its fully shielded
capabilities of a 40 Gb/s Ethernet
to four TVs from a single outlet. design, category 7A cable provides
(40GBASE-T) application are
“By eliminating the extra outlets higher performance than unshield-
finalized and more advanced and
and much of the coaxial cabling ed twisted-pair (UTP) lower category
representative real-life analysis
for video, we were able to cut labor cabling. At higher frequencies,
can be conducted, it is too early to
costs in half,” says Roof. “With the the use of individually shielded
category 7A outlets, we also don’t pairs virtually eliminates internal guarantee 40GBASE-T application
have to worry when we need to crosstalk between pairs and external support distance for any media.
move people around. It’s as simple cable-to-cable alien crosstalk, both However, it does look as if a fully-
as using different patch cords.” along the cable run and between shielded system with the non-RJ-
With custom-made cords, they were connectors at the work area and in style connector and its unique
even able to support their existing the telecommunications closet. It isolated quadrant design will
digital phone system that required is therefore able to support 10 Gb/s ultimately provide some support
a crossover cable. applications without any additional for next generation speeds of 40
Rock Hill Utilities Department mitigation practices like those often Gb/s while offering the innovative
ultimately ended up installing required when using UTP cabling. capability of cable sharing. Stand-
480 category 7A outlets in the The cable’s outer overall braid ards-based category 7A is here today
administration building, 203 in shield provides additional strength and here to stay. n

Electronic reprint with permission from BICSI News Magazine-May/June 2013 Issue