In the last 20 years, the enterprise cable market has witnessed the tremendous transformation in terms of the growth, commoditization, new technologies, and evolving standards. In fact, this network infrastructure is the backbone for data storage and voice transmission. To obtain an overall view of the structured cable market, General Cable conducted a study on end-users, consultants, engineers, contractors, and installers. The aim of the study was also to understand how the last two decades of market development will shape the future.
The advancement in technology has made the latest communication systems power hungry, which means they need high-speed connections, high security, fast computers and instantaneous response. These demands of the organizations can be catered only by the structured cabling systems. Therefore, in the recent times, the companies are emphasizing on the need of switching over to the structured cabling system.
The Past and the Future of Copper Cabling structure
Several studies conducted on cable market revealed that in 2005, the US category cable market peaked to 7 million feet – especially in North America. However, the growth rate saw a steady decline during the next 5 years – between 2005 and 2010 – due to the economic crisis. Post-2010, the market managed to remain remarkably consistent at 5 billion feet. Furthermore, the increase in data needs has brought the costs down. In fact, there has been a steady and dramatic shift from Cat 3/ Cat 5 to Cat 6. This shows that structured cable systems are capable of innovations, keeping up with new technology, and developing products. Though copper category cable market is expected to be stable, the expected growth rate is between 0% and -2%. The introduction of the structured cabling in the late 90s has made companies realize their need to get their cabling structure standardized. Structured cabling has come a long way and commercial information transmission is addressed in the most customized and organised manner.
Wireless technology is the expected to advance and continue to support greater bandwidth requirements, especially in residential environments. To those involved in the installation, maintenance of structured cabling systems, and designing, the features of wireless networking may look beguiling. Wireless technology helps in avoiding the hassles of running cables to remote locations. As wireless technology can serve admirably numerous applications, in the recent years, it has been seeing a gradual but consistent shift in data consumption by the end users from hard-wired to mobile. These factors have led to a downward pressure of 3% per year on category cables due to wireless growth. However, there are also pitfalls of wireless networking. Though Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (New York) has set the standard for wireless networking – IEEE 802.11b, a complete interoperability among all WLAN vendors have remained unattained. Additionally, wireless conversions will dampen the security concerns.
The evolution of PoE over the last decade to provide a viable powering option for a wide range of applications have given birth to basic categories of PoE: standards compliant low power (802.3at) and non-standard applications with higher power delivery. The ever increasing PoE standards and non-standard high-powered applications can be met by:
- Large-gauge conductors for high-powered applications which reduces the impact on the transmission, reduces the HVAC loading within the premises, and allows the operation in higher temperature without exceeding the cable temperature rating.
- Jacket Temperature rating beyond standard requirements: This offers higher protection against increased operating temperature by surpassing the industry standard of 60°C and preventing material degradation from elevated temperatures over extended periods.
The advent of fiber-optic cable has helped the communication technology to take a giant leap. But has it proved to be a viable alternative? According to a survey, the majority chose wireless over fiber, when asked about employing non-copper cable solutions. The complexity of fiber termination and cost to convert optical to electronic signal were cited as major concerns.
In conclusion, it is believed that future shifts from copper to new technologies will be slower, on the margins rather than systemic. Also, the copper cable market is expected to be stable with a range of year over year growth between 0% and -2%.
Facts about cabling systems:
- Copper cabling has been on decline since 2006
- However, nearly 90% of commercial users employ copper category cables as their main choice for delivering data.
- In last 5 years, Wireless LAN (WLAN) connections, which require less copper cabling, have tripled in the past 5 years. The WLAN connection is approaching nearly 80% of the installed Ethernet Base.
- Only 5% of the horizontal structured cable uses fiber, despite superior transmission speeds.
PoE applications such as HDBaseT and Nurse Call Systems that pull more power will continue to grow.