In 2002, the IEEE Standards board published the 802.3ae-2002 specification which defined 10G Ethernet and it is currently the fastest of the Ethernet standards.  It defines a version of Ethernet with a nominal data rate of 10Gbit/s ten times as fast as Gigabit Ethernet.  10 Gigabit Ethernet supports only full duplex links which can be connected by data switches. The 10G Ethernet format can also be supported by either a Fiber Optic or Copper cable transmission system.  For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll be addressing the copper cable transmission.

10GBASE-T or IEEE 802.3an-2006 is a standard released in 2006 to provide 10 Gigabit/second connections over unshielded or shielded twisted pair cables over distances up to 100m(330ft). The twisted pair cable is typically comprised of four twisted pairs of 23AWG copper cable under the same jacket, but divided into four individual quadrants separated by a plastic spine extended throughout the entire length of the cable.  Some manufacturers of cable are able to achieve the 10G standard with unshielded twisted pairs, while other manufacturers construct their cable with twisted pairs wrapped with a foil shield.  CAT6 cable can be used in a 10G application, but there is a distance limitation of 55M (180ft).  To reach full 100M (330ft) length, CAT6A cable must be used to comply with 10G specifications.  CAT6A or CAT6 “Augmented” is the recommended cable for 10G networking applications.

10G Connectors:

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The connector choice to be used for 10G Ethernet is the 8 position 8 conductor (8P8C) RJ45. This connector is available in both plug and jack formats, but must be compatible with 23AWG twisted pair.  The RJ45 connector needs verifiable test results of up to 500MHz or greater. In some cases, shielded connectors are the preference to work in conjunction with shielded CAT6A cable; however, there are manufacturers that have designed their shielded cable to work with unshielded connectors.  Leviton and Superior Essex are two manufacturers that have designed a connector system and cable system that are fully compatible with each other while still meeting or exceeding the specifications.  Their solution is a guaranteed system for use in all 10G applications.

Since the 10G platform is currently the fastest Ethernet standard, most applications include those that require the most available headroom for data travel.  These cases include situations where massive data packets need to travel at very frequent and expeditious rates.  Common examples are:

•    Hospitals and Medical Centers
•    Government Facilities
•    School Districts and Higher Education
•    Data Centers