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Will Cat8 Cable Be The Last Of Its Kind?

Will Cat8 Cable Be The Last Of Its Kind?

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Cat8 cabling is now being offered for sale in the market. As present, it’s expected that it will support bandwidths of up to 2 GHz (2000 MHz) and speeds of 25Gbps / 40Gbps for up to 30 meters of cable. It’s primarily intended for use as patch cords in data centres, due to the fact that it is only effective at short lengths, but it may end up being used for other purposes in time.
So what does the introuduction of Cat8 cable mean for the future of copper? Will copper ever be completely replaced by fibre? That’s a question that has been asked more and more in recent years. But maybe we should also be asking if copper actually needs to be replaced?


There’s no doubt that fibre-optic cable has a number of easily-identifiable advantages over copper cabling. Optical fibre delivers greater bandwidth. Fibre can move data greater distances at much higher speeds than copper. Fibre optic cable is also capable of carrying more information, with less energy loss, than copper wire.
 
But copper isn’t completely useless. It supports Power Over Ethernet, meaning a single network cable can be used to provide both data connection and electric power. POE is great, for example, in CCTV systems that use cameras on a long run, especially IP cameras that are located nowhere near an accessible power source. The only real alternative to this is powered fibre, which still involves copper, and combines a fibre cable with a copper power cable. It does work over longer distances than POE, but still requires more than one cable.
 
Whether to use copper or fibre also depends upon how long the cable run is going to be. In horizontal cabling, the runs are likely to be relatively short. In instances such as these, it will take a long time before copper is replaced by fibre. In horizontal cabling situations, Optical fibre can certainly be used. However, fibre is generally only used when interference, either electromagnetic (EMI) or radio-frequency (RFI) is a problem, or when security is a critical concern.
 
So, in a nutshell, it looks like Cat8 cable will see some use. It’s important to note however, that there are two standards for Cat8, Category 8.1 and Category 8.2, and the latest technical information is that Category 8 is likely to allow other connector types (such as ARJ45) as well as the RJ45. ARJ45 connectors are essentially augmented RJ45s, and deliver faster performance than standard RJ45 connectors, making them much more suited for high-frequency applications.
 
Copper connectors are generally cheaper than fibre connectors, and with most end users finding that traditional copper-based category cables coupled with WiFi are more than adequate for their needs, fibre is unlikely to completely replace copper anytime soon.