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10Gb Cabling – What cabling do I need for 10Gb Ethernet

Which Standard?

Many business owners overlook the critical importance of the IT infrastructure that their company runs on. Furthermore the demands for bandwidth continue to rise as video and multimedia become more essential, and these systems will play an even greater role.

Things like phone systems, consistent cleaning of the offices, and proper recruiting of new workers are all essential in their own way. However before you can have any of that, you need to have cabling infrastructure that is capable of handling the needs of your business.

You can visualise cabling as the “roads” that your data must travel on. Generally everyone knows that a poor road network slows down traffic and causes damage to the cars over time. You should be applying the same thought process to how you manage your office cabling.

Getting high quality cabling that is up to the industry standard is the best way to ensure your cabling solutions are going to deliver for your technology.

Cabling Evolution in the Industry

It used to be that 1Gb cabling was considered to be plenty for businesses, but with the growing consumption of bandwidth, 10Gb Cabling has emerged as the basic requirement for businesses everywhere.

Connecting servers and storage to switches using 10Gb Ethernet cables is quickly becoming the standard for businesses. These solutions are built using either copper or fibre cabling, and often run through a networking device (e.g. a switch or network interface controller).

Adoption of the 10Gb standard has been slower than with previous standards for Ethernet, and this has largely been due to price issues, but this is continuing to improve over time.

Cat6 Cabling and beyond

Originally for Structured Cabling in the modern office Cat5e cables were often used to support networks with requirements up to1Gb. However these cables are not up to standard for 10Gb networks. The use of copper cabling for 10Gb Ethernet solutions is becoming more widespread, with the most popular solution being Cat6a cabling and moving into the Cat7 and Cat8 spectrum

Cat6 cabling is only recommended for 10G cabling when it is already in place and less than 55m from the cabinet to the outlet. Even then the performance cannot be certified to work as it should for 10gig transmission

Cat6a 10Gb Cabling comes with many benefits including:

  • Backward compatible and may be paired with devices created for slower cables
  • Can support distances up to 90 meters with patch leads and 100m direct links
  • Generally cheaper than many of the other solutions

Other cables that have 10Gb cabling capabilities

  • Cat6 – although not recommended legacy Cat6 can transmit 10G upto 55m
  • Cat7 and Cat8 (natural evolutions of Cat6a cabling)
  • CX4 (the first 10Gb Ethernet copper standard, but comes with the disadvantage of a form-factor that is too large)
  • SFP+Direct Attach (often used to connect servers and storage devices in a rack because of its low cost)
  • Multi-Mode MMF (fibre cabling solution that covers up to 550 meters)
  • Single-Mode SMF (currently the industry standard and has the highest range)

Structured Cabling Distance Limitations

Copper Cabling

Copper Type Recommended for 10G Maximum Distance
Cat5e No None
Cat6 No 55m – not certified
Cat6a Yes 90 / 100m
Cat7 Yes 90 / 100m
Cat8 Yes 90 / 100m

Fibre Optic Cabling

Fibre Type Mode Maximum Distance for 10Gig (10GBASE- R @ 850nm)
OM1 Multimode 33 metres
OM2 Multimode 82 metres
OM3 Multimode 300 metres
OM4 Multimode 550 metres
OM5 Multimode 550 metres
OS1 Singlemode 2000 metres
OS2 Singlemode 5000-10000 meters



Getting in the Right Mind-set

Cabling is not typically something that should be done in house by the end client or by the technology partners supplying the phone systems, VOIP, Computer networks or WiFi. Furthermore poorly installed initial data cabling not only affects the current performance of your network, but any errors you make now may negatively affect any attempts to scale you make in the future.

Constant investment and the proper mind-set around it is the best way to always be pushing your company ahead. In addition to having a well-planned and strongly organised cable strategy is a crucial part of the IT infrastructure of your company, and you would be best recommended not to overlook it.

 How much does 10 Gig Data Cabling Cost

The installation costs will depend on several factors for the installation of the structured cabling. In addition elements such as false floor, false ceilings and existing containment will make the installation easier and more cost effective. If these elements are not in place then the cost will increase to provide these elements on top of the cabling infrastructure

As an outline for 24 outlets an above a Cat6a structured cabling system in a false floor or ceiling environment in a standard office will cost approximately £55-70 per point

What elements will increase the cost of the 10 Gig Structured Cabling

The following elements will incur additional costs to the initial cabling installation

  • Requirement to install additional containment or floor boxes – approx. £10-15 per point
  • Installation of new cabinets – depending on size – approx. £5-7 per point
  • Out of Hours Working – £8-10 per point

*In some cases working out of hours results in the same cost or reduced cost as it allows for quicker installation due to the absence of employees in the area

About NM Cabling Solutions – Network Cabling Specialist

NM Cabling is a technology and structured cabling integrator working throughout the United Kingdom.

We have created a comprehensive Knowledge Centre for our industry which can be viewed at