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What is the new TIA Standard for 28-AWG Copper Patch Cables?

What is the new TIA Standard for 28-AWG Copper Patch Cables

Black Box Explains

28-AWG patch cable is made with thinner, 28-AWG stranded copper conductors as opposed to traditional patch cables made with thicker 24- or 26-AWG conductors. It has been gaining many fans and is becoming a more popular choice, especially in high-density data centres and telecom rooms. Because of its high performance and advantages to users, it has recently been recognised in the TIA-568.2-D standard published by the Telecommunications Industry Association.

In this article, we'll examine the advantages of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable as well as some usage considerations.

Black Box range of CAT6 and CAT6A 28-AWG Patch Cables, Slim-Net™

Advantages of 28-AWG CATx Patch Cables

Advantage 1: Space savings

With a typical diameter of only 4.1 mm, 28-AWG cable is almost half the size of a typical 24-AWG cable at 5.9 mm. This gives you a lot of extra space in cable managers and in pathways. The difference can be dramatic, as shown in this photo of a bundle of 28-AWG cable compared to a bundle of 24-AWG cable.

SlimNet 28-AWG Patch Cables from Black Box

When you calculate the physical cable area in bundles and in patching connections, you'll actually save more than 50% space compared to traditional cables. This can make a significant difference in congested telecom rooms and data centres.

Advantage 2: Improved airflow

Cooling is a hot issue in today's data centres, especially in crowded racks and cabinets. 28-AWG CATx cables are much thinner than traditional 24-AWG cables. They take up less space in front of patch panels and network equipment, resulting in improved air flow and cooling of equipment.

Advantage 3: Easier handling

There's more space between patched 28-AWG cables, so the cable is much easier to handle. Compared to 24-AWG cables, which often are a dense mass in front of equipment, you'll find there's more space for your fingers to get a hold on plugs when doing installs and MACs (moves, additions, and changes). Also, you'll find it's much easier to identify port assignments on equipment.

Advantage 4: Fewer cable managers

28-AWG networking cables are much less bulky and offer better flexibility than 24-AWG cables. With a bend radius that's 70% tighter than 24-AWG cable, you can easily route cables to other equipment or to the side without cable managers or with fewer horizontal cable managers. Because of that, you can reduce the number of horizontal cable managers you need, or possibly eliminate them entirely. You will also gain up to 50% more space in vertical cable managers.

SlimNet 28-AWG Patch Cables from Black Box

Advantage 5: Conserve rack space

You will be able to put more cables in high-density 1U or 2U patch panels, freeing up valuable rack units. By eliminating horizontal cable managers, you'll actually conserve valuable rack space. Consider how many rack units you can free up in a typical rack enabling you to add more equipment or to reserve space for future expansion. Depending on your application, you may even free up enough space to consolidate equipment from two racks into one.

Advantage 6: Price

28-AWG cable has less copper in its conductors, so it should cost less than traditional 24- or 26-AWG cable (at least Black Box's 28-AWG cable costs less). This can add up to significant savings when setting up and patching high-density telecom rooms and data centres with hundreds of cables.

Advantage 7: ANSI/TIA-568.2-D compliant

In June 2018, the TIA revised their 568 cabling standard to include 28-AWG patch cords. While the standard specifies that patch cords can be made from 28-AWG cable, it also states that "maximum channel length must be de-rated from their maximum 100 meter length when using 28-AWG patch cords."

Note: The standard does not include horizontal cable with 28-AWG conductors.

Advantage 8: Improved switch visibility

Since 28-AWG networking cables have a smaller profile, they allow for greater visibility of link lights and port identifiers.

Advantage 9: Use with Power over Ethernet (PoE)

One of the most common questions about Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is if it can support Power over Ethernet (PoE). The answer is a resounding "Yes".

Black Box cable can support all PoE levels: IEEE 802.3 af PoE, 802.3 at PoE+, and the upcoming 802.3 bt (PoE++). This makes Slim-Net cable a more economical choice for powering remote security cameras, manufacturing sensors, wireless access points, and more. The only consideration you should keep in mind is that, because the cable is smaller, it should be grouped in smaller bundles of 12 or less to counteract any extra heat build-up and to comply with the 15°C temperature rise outlined in TSB 184.

SlimNet 28-AWG Patch Cables from Black Box

Summary 28-AWG CATx patch cables

28-AWG CATx patch cables are a great alternative to traditional 24-AWG cable, especially in high-density telecom rooms and data centres where rack space is at a premium. The thinner, 4.1 mm diameter is almost half the size of a 24-AWG cable so it's ideal for saving space, reducing clutter, and improving airflow. It's easier to handle, so the need for cable managers can be reduced or eliminated. It also costs less than traditional cable.

With almost 50% more space between cables, you'll like working with 28-AWG cable. It's much easier to get your fingers in between the cables for patching, easier to identify port designations and easier to route cables. The new TIA-568.2-D standard makes 28-AWG cable an especially smart alternative for short patches. You can also use 28-AWG on one end of your channel and 24-AWG cable on the other end.

28-AWG Patch Cables from Black Box come with Lifetime Guarantee

Black Box offers with the Slim-Net™ range, CAT6 and CAT6A 28-AWG networking cable in seven lengths and colours. The company unconditionally guarantees the cables for life. The entire line can be seen here.