Cabling: Making The Best Of Limited Lifespan
by Buddy Shipley

Published July 2001





When organizations decide to install a new cable plant, they want to know that it will be able to support all their current network applications as well as future applications—in other words, they want an idea of its serviceable lifespan. The ANSI/TIA/EIA 569-A Design Considerations states that "These standards are intended to provide for a generic structured cabling plant, capable of running any voice or data application foreseeable in the next 10 to 15 years." While this is certainly an admirable objective, it may not be realistic.


Consider recent history. In 1985 we were still installing thick and thin coax to support 10-Mbps Ethernet. In 1987 we started using DIW-24 UTP to support 10Base-T, and in the early 1990s DIW-24 was replaced by Cat3 and soon thereafter by Cat4. By 1995 we were looking at 100Base-TX Fast Ethernet over Cat5. Cat4 was available for only a very brief time because Cat5 followed so quickly on its heels. In just 10 years we progressed through five cabling standards!


Five years later, in 2000, Gigabit Ethernet (1000Base-T) revealed deficiencies in some Cat5 installations. So, in early 2001, Cat5 has already been superceded by Cat5E. Cat4 and Cat5 are both defunct, and the development of Cat6 standards is well under way. Cat6 promises to replace Cat5E within a year or so, and there's also talk of Cat7! What is a strategic planner to do?



Access paper

Approx. 31 kB


For help with .pdf file downloads, please check out the help topic.


Return to Business Communications Review Gold Sponsor Archives


Return to Network Access and Infrastructure menu

This article is reproduced by special arrangement with our partner, Business Communications Review.


Please note: By downloading this information, you acknowledge that the sponsor(s) of this information may contact you, providing that they give you the option of opting out of further communications from them concerning this information.  Also, by your downloading this information, you agree that the information is for your personal use only and that this information may not be retransmitted to others or reposted on another web site.  Please encourage colleagues to download their own copy after registering at