A Category 7 cable (cat 7 cable) is a type of shielded twisted pair cable used in high-speed Ethernet based computer networks of 1 Gbps or higher. It is defined and specified in the ISO/IEC 11801:2002, Class F specification. The Cat 7 cable is backward compatible with Cat 6, Cat 5/e cabling standard and equipments.
The Cat 7 cable is similar to the Cat 6 cable. Each has the same four-pair of twisted cables that support 10 Gbps Ethernet networks and stretch to 100 meters in length. It can provide a bandwidth speed of 600 MHz.
The Cat 7 cable provides more enhanced performance against crosstalk and attenuation than its previous peers by requiring that each pair be completely shielded and form a screen-shielded twisted pair (SSTP) or screen-foiled twisted pair (SFTP) based cabling. It is used in Gb Ethernet and 10 Gb Ethernet networks.
Cat 7 cable is commonly terminated using a GG45 connector, which is a connector that it backwards compatible with the 8p8c RJ45 connectors used on Cat6 or Cat5e cable. The GG45 connector has four additional conductors that provide support for frequencies of up to 600MHz, and up to 1000MHz using Cat7a. The higher frequencies allow Cat 7 cable to support 10-Gigabit Ethernet. Cat7 cable may also be terminated using TERA connectors, which were developed by Siemon. The TERA connector has a unique footprint and is not compatible with a standard 8p8c (RJ45) connector. The TERA connector is also capable of supporting frequencies of up to 600MHz using Cat7a cable. The ability to support the higher frequencies allows Cat7 and Cat7a cable to carry more data. This allows Cat7 and Cat7a cable to support Ethernet applications up to 10-Gigabit Ethernet.
What is the application for a data center?
Cat7 and Cat7a cabling will be used for backbone connections between servers within a data center. This provides a high-speed interconnect used for data transfer within the network.
Does this replace fiber?
This provides an alternative to using fiber optic cabling within the data center. Cat7 and Cat7a cabling will provide similar performance to some fiber solutions. The cost of equipment that supports copper cabling is typically less than equipment that supports fiber cabling. Another advantage is that the copper cabling is not as fragile as fiber cabling.
What’s the practical performance difference with Cat5e/6?
Cat7 and Cat7a cable are designed to support much higher frequency signals than Cat5e and Cat6. This allows Cat7 and Cat7a cabling to carry a larger amount of information. Cat7 and Cat7a cable are also able to better protect the signals traveling over the cable. The shielding as well as the tighter twists of the pairs in Cat7 and Cat7a cable lessens the effects of crosstalk and EMI.
Currently, Cat7 is not widely adopted. Cat5e and Cat6 solutions sufficiently support the bandwidth requirements of today’s data centers, networks, and end users. Using Cat7 for a connection to a desktop would be unnecessary because the bandwidth would not be utilized. It may also be an unnecessary expense for many data center applications for the same reason. However, as technology advances and requirements increase, Cat7 cable will become more relevant in the data center and desktop connections.
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