Why Certify LAN Cabling Installation?

Author:Barrera, Dan

LAN cable certifiers are the go-to method of testing twisted pair cabling. But why do installers need to certify cabling? And what is the difference between a certifier and other types of LAN testers? Dan Barrera, Global Product Manager from IDEAL Networks explains.

"Put simply, the first two elements of a LAN cabling system are the cable and the connectors. The third is the installation of those elements in the field, and this is what LAN cable certifiers test," explains Dan. "Quality connectors and cable will provide their advertised performance when properly installed in laboratory environments, but installation in the field is very different to installation in a laboratory."

In the field, the cable can be stretched, kinked, crushed, installed in hot areas, exposed to water, and terminated with poor workmanship. Therefore, to ensure that the individual quality components form a completed, quality cabling system, installers need to test the performance of that cabling in the field.

However, there are also cabling standards to consider. The two main standardisation bodies that define LAN cabling specifications are the ISO/IEC with the I 1801 series standards and ANSI/TIA with the 568 series of standards. These standards define performance requirements for components, cable and cabling.

The component and cable standards are used by manufacturers for design and testing, but the cabling standard is a consideration for field engineers testing installed cabling. This standard defines the required performance of completed links and channels when connectors and cable are installed in the field. This field testing is critical because the link and channel performance is what determines whether networking equipment will operate properly, and provide the advertised bandwidth.

"I'm often asked why a certifier is needed rather than a LAN cable qualifier," says Dan. "This is down to standards which play a key role in certification--the test and accuracy requirements for cable certifiers are developed in conjunction with the performance requirements for cabling."

Conversely, cable qualification has no defined tests, performance or accuracy specifications in the standards organisations. Qualification is left up to the manufacturer of the LAN qualifier to decide what to test, how accurate the instrument is and how to...

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