Ethernet cables play an integral role in setting up highly reliable and secure wired connections for both residential and commercial purposes. Some network cables on the market fail to meet the TIA or ISO performance requirements, which frequently results in network downtime and troubleshooting for mission-critical applications.
To perform reliably and up-to-spec, Ethernet cables need to be tested or certified in a professional and graphical manner to meet some rather exacting specifications defined by the industry TIA/ISO standards. A right certification test will help determine if your system has improper lain wiring or damaged cables. Fluke network testers are handy tools that technicians use for certification services and tests. The following content mainly explained what is a Fluke test and how to read a Fluke test report.
Fluke test is a series of industrial tests and measurements for physical links conducted with Fluke testers such as Fluke Network Cable Analyzer which can provide “Pass” or “Fail” information in accordance with industry standards. It provides a level of assurance that network cabling links have the desired network transmission capability to support the data communication desired by the users. In the Fluke test, patch cord testing, channel testing and permanent link testing are adopted by installers and end-users to verify the performance of the installed twisted-pair cabling links.
Users expect their Ethernet network cabling to work perfectly, but some users are likely to cut the corners and skip the cable testing process during installation, which can make them fail to find out the cable issues, directly resulting in network downtime. This problem can be avoided by adopting professional testers (such as Fluke network testers) to help locate faults quickly.
Fluke testers have great capabilities when it comes to troubleshooting cable, all while maintaining a higher grade of accuracy. It can not only graphically display failures including crosstalk, return loss and shield faults, but also analyze the test results and deliver a professional Fluke test report. Besides, Fluke testers will allow you to track and archive your test results for future reference. Having data to reference is especially important, as the same network may be tested multiple times over a span of a few years. Using professional Fluke network testers, you can download software in order to keep all the various test results and network tester information in one place, which makes it easier to manage the job. The following content explains different Fluke tests in detail.
Patch cord testing is a method to measure the performance of the network patch cords themselves, thus it has the highest level of requirements for the cable performance. A network patch cable passing the patch cord testing usually has higher performance and is more durable and reliable to be deployed in high-end data centers because it can avoid packet or data losses. When conducting the patch cord testing, a copper patch cord is connected between two pieces of test equipment including the whole patch cable and the test adapters. Any cable that is longer than 10m is not compliant and should be tested to channel specifications. That’s also why patch cord testing is most adopted to verify the copper patch cables between adjacent racks in the data centers.
TIA and ISO standards define the channel of copper cabling as the complete end-to-end link over which active equipment on the network communicates. In a copper network, the channel is the connection between two devices, including any patch cords used for cross-connects or interconnects between them. In the LAN, the channel testing could be done from a distribution switch in a telecommunications room all the way to the network card in a laptop. Channel testing can be carried out with Ethernet patch cables, pre-terminated trunk cables and bulk cables. The overall length of the channel, including the cabling and any cords should not exceed 100 meters per industry standard guidelines. The requirements for cable performance in channel testing are less strict than that of the patch cord testing, thus network cables that pass the channel testing can not always pass the patch cord testing.
The permanent link refers to the ‘permanent’ or fixed part of the copper network which comprises of components that will permanently stay in place such as a patch panel, LAN cable and an outlet. Permanent link testing is used to verify the performance of the installed twisted pair cabling links including pre-terminated trunk cables and bulk cables in the field, thus being considered as the true foundation of the network. In the Fluke test, the permanent link testing excludes the equipment cords because it only measures the fixed portion of the channel, typically patch panel to patch panel in the data center or patch panel in the telecommunications room to work area outlet or consolidation point in the LAN. The maximum permitted length of the permanent link is 90 meters.
After testing some recently installed copper network runs, you can easily see on your tester if the link failed or passed for the application you were testing by noticing whether it reports a ‘pass’ result or an asterisk result. But what does each of the parameters on the reports indicate and how to explain those pretty charts to the right? Let's dive deeper into each of the parameters on the Fluke test report.
NEXT (Near-End Crosstalk) - the difference in amplitude (in dB) between a transmitted signal and the crosstalk received on other wire pairs at the same end of the cabling.
PS NEXT (Power Sum Near-End Crosstalk) - the difference (in dB) between the test signal and the crosstalk from the other pairs received at the same end of the cabling.
ACR-F (Attenuation Crosstalk Ratio Far-End) - a calculation of FEXT minus Insertion Loss of the disturbed pair in dB.
PS ACR-F (Power Sum Attenuation Crosstalk Ratio Far-End) - a calculation of PS FEXT minus Insertion Loss of the disturbed pair in dB.
ACR-N (Attenuation Crosstalk Ratio Near-End) - a calculation of NEXT minus Insertion Loss of the disturbed pair in dB.
PS ACR-N (Power Sum Attenuation Crosstalk Ratio Near-End) - a calculation of PS NEXT minus Insertion Loss of the disturbed pair in dB.
RL (Return Loss) - the difference (in dB) between the power of a transmitted signal and the power of the signals reflected back.
In today’s constantly developing network industry, the copper cabling infrastructure that supports a network is required to provide the appropriate transmission capability in order to support the data communication that is required by its end users. Due to market need and the conclusions from the Fluke Test program, all FS patch cords are 100% tested to the full requirements of industry TIA/ISO standards. These Ethernet cables, including Cat5e patch cables, Cat6/6a patch cables, Cat7 cables and Cat8 cables, have sufficient performance margin to support 1000Base-T/10GBase-T and even 25GBase-T/40GBase-T applications in data center networks. Best of all, every patch cord is backed by actual test data and delivers professional Fluke test report, assuring the buyers or end users to get the performance they paid for and have the right to expect.