BIoT Canada

Designing in a 10GigE world

Since the copper standard is not yet ratified, be sure that the systems you install are backed by a warranty.

January 1, 2006  

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There’s an old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That sentiment is particularly apt in the current 10 Gigabit revolution: copper and fiber jockeying for position, what’s best for the client, manufacturers moving forward, standards playing catch up.

What is an information transport systems (ITS) designer to do?

We in the ITS industry have heard a lot about 10 Gigabit Ethernet over copper in the last few years.

In fact, some of us may have installed the offerings already provided by many major manufacturers in the marketplace.

The situation is complicated by the fact that the only current standard applies to 10 Gigabit over fiber (IEEE 802.3ae). The copper standard (IEEE 802.3an) is still pending and not expected to be ratified until July 2006.

So manufacturers are extrapolating current standards and making predictions on the final outcome of the copper standard. Using these predictions, they are developing many unique innovations in providing 10 Gigabit solutions over twisted-pair.

But, why? Why the push for 10 Gig over twisted-pair vs. fiber?

Many installers and designers are familiar with twisted-pair practices and find it relatively easy to adapt to new requirements for 10 Gigabit twisted-pair instructions. For example, practices such as installation displacement contact (IDC) process, cable preparation, pair separation, bend radius and other copper wire methodologies are usually only slightly modified for the new 10 Gig requirements.

Manufacturers are aware of this and have developed 10 Gigabit twisted-pair solutions to take advantage of the existing knowledge base in the industry.

On the other hand, working with fiber presents a whole range of new practices, procedures and tools that may require a substantial investment in training and equipment.

What does this mean to you?

Since the copper standard is not yet ratified, be sure that the systems you install are backed by a warranty covering the applications required by your client.

You should also ensure that the manufacturer will provide support to you and your client if their solution is affected by the final standard.

As well, be sure that you accurately follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions and test procedures.

Always retain proof of your design and installation procedures along with the test results. These will be necessary if modifications or retests are required.

If the past is any indication, we will probably see initial installation of 10 Gigabit in the backbone and in data centers where the high bandwidth is required, long before it reaches the workstation or desktop.

This will allow time for the standards and the marketplace to catch up with each other and help create a unified approach to this latest step in the quest for more network capacity.

New BICSI Networking Manual: Speaking of networks, the sixth edition of BICSI’s Network Design Reference Manual (NDRM) will make its debut in January. This publication is a must-have addition to your reference library, whether you’re a beginning or veteran designer, consultant, engineer, support specialist, buyer, network user, candidate for the RCDD/NTS Specialty exam or just interested in the subject.

The new NDRM is a comprehensive source for organizational network design and contains extensive material on Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

You’ll find the manual is carefully researched and precisely written by a team of subject matter experts.

The document covers the fundamentals of network architecture, connectivity, communications and administration. Design guidelines are provided for networks of increasing physical span and remote access, including departmental, backbone, wide area and remote access networking. Two appendices are also included, covering legacy networking technologies (like Token Ring, FDDI, ATM,) and numbering conversions (binary, decimal, hexadecimal).

Indexed and illustrated with a complete glossary, the NDRM will be available in a three-ring binder version or on a searchable CD-ROM.

For more information or to read a sample chapter, visit While you’re on the Web site, check out BICSI’s course and conference schedule for 2006.

Roman Dabrowski, RCDD, is the Canadian Director of BICSI and a Director of Product Management with Bell Canada. He can be reached via e-mail at