Home > Information > Video Library > Infrastructure > Choosing a CAT5e or CAT6 channel solution: what you need to know.
Choosing a CAT5e or CAT6 channel solution: what you need to know.

What you need to know before choosing a CAT5e or CAT6 channel solution.

Choose a CAT5e or CAT6 channel solution that’ll not only give you reliable end-to-end performance but also enough headroom for application assurance. In this video tutorial, Black Box’s Andy Schmeltzer offers an informative explanation on how to shop for such a solution.

Host Kevin O¹Leary: Channel solution. You hear the term a lot these days to describe complete copper or fiber cabling systems. But what exactly is a channel solution and what are its benefits? Let¹s talk to the cable guy at Black Box, Andy Schmeltzer.

Andy: A channel solution is a cabling system from the data center to the desktop where every cable, jack, and patch panel is designed to work together and give you consistent end-to-end performance when compared with the EIA/TIA requirements. It¹s beneficial because you have some assurance that your cabling components will perform as specified.

Kevin: And without that assurance?

Andy: Without that assurance, one part may not be doing its job, so your entire system may not be performing up to standard. And that¹s not good if you rely on bandwidth-heavy links for video, voice, and data.

Kevin: So if you¹re evaluating channel solutions advertised out there on the Web and elsewhere, what exactly should you be looking for?

Andy: For one, make sure it¹s a fully tested, guaranteed channel solution.

Kevin: Does it matter if it¹s a quote-unquote guaranteed channel solution?

Andy: Absolutely. The facts show an inferior cabling system can cause up to 70 percent of network downtime‹even though it usually represents only 5 percent of an initial network investment. So don¹t risk widespread failure by skimping on a system that doesn¹t offer guaranteed channel performance. You need to make sure the products are engineered to meet or go beyond the key measurements for CAT5e or CAT6 performance. And, sure, they may be designed to work together, but does the supplier absolutely guarantee how well they perform as part of a channel?

Kevin: How else can you be sure that what you buy will give you reliable end-to-end performance?

Andy: Well don¹t just rely on what the supplier says. They may claim their product meets CAT5e or CAT6 requirements, but the proof is in the performance. Start by asking if the channel solution is independently tested and certified by a reputable third party. There are a lot of suppliers out there who don¹t have the trademarked ETL stamp of approval.

Kevin: What exactly does the ETL logo stand for?

Andy: It certifies that a channel solution has been found to be in compliance with recognized standards. But some manufacturers, like Black Box, actually go further than others in the certification process. Our GigaBase? CAT5e and GigaTrue? CAT6 Channel Solutions are actually ETL Verified.

Kevin: ETL Verified?

Andy: Yes, for a manufacturer like Black Box to claim ETL Verification, they have to let the testing lab come in to their warehouse, randomly pick the products, and randomly test them to see how they work together in a channel. It¹s all pretty thorough and happens four times a year. It involves rigorous passive testing to see how these products work together in a channel.

Kevin: What goes into passive testing? Andy: Well, it involves sending data through the channel to see how the products compare with the requirements in the CAT5e and CAT6 specifications, and to pinpoint how much headroom the channel solution provides above the specifications. With our GigaBase and GigaTrue channel solutions, the result¹s the same in every test: They pass with zero errors, and that testing confirms that there¹s ample headroom for application assurance.

Kevin: So that¹s why Black Box can say...

Andy: ...that our cabling, jacks, and other channel components will serve you well both now and in the future‹guaranteed. But go ahead and compare. You may find other products on the Internet that are a dollar or two cheaper, but be careful. You¹re probably not getting a lifetime guarantee and, chances are, you¹re not getting an independently ETL Verified channel solution like Black Box¹s. If you still need information or want to see all the test results documenting how well our solutions perform, just go to and download our brochure. Or contact us and we¹ll email it to you in a matter of minutes. While you¹re at it, ask for our Guide to Structured Cabling, too. It¹s a handy guide full of tips on how to choose the right cable for your application.

Kevin: Well, I hope this helps you sort through all the channel solutions out there. But, remember, with Black Box¹s fully verified channel solutions, ironclad guarantees, and everyday low prices, there¹s really no reason to go anywhere else for your cabling products. 

Share |