Cable Designed for the Long Term

By Bruce Collins

It is ironic that one of the top causes of system outages in wireless communications turns out to be a wire (actually a cable). Ensuring high system uptime and performance requires attention to details such as grounding, surge suppression, power conditioning and especially the selection and deployment of a CAT5 Ethernet drop cable. These cables carry power, data and sometimes synchronization signals from the radio to the switch. The most common hazards to CAT5 cable include: water ingress, UV/Sunlight exposure, rodent activity, and mechanical wear/abrasion. A cable suitable for outdoor deployments to wireless radios must combat these hazards while maintaining the high performance demanded of Gbps+ radio systems.

Since Ethernet cables are deployed across all ranges of environments (indoor / outdoor / industrial / residential / office) there are many options on the market for CAT5 cable and the selection can be confusing. It seems most WISP operators have horror stories of result of a poor selection with cable jackets becoming discolored, then brittle, then cracked leading to water penetration and loss of service. You can read these stories and post your own at our community forum here.

In addition to selecting a cable with characteristics designed for long-term, rugged environments, it is just as important to terminate and water-proof the RJ-45 connections at each end. The use of high-quality connectors and consistent installation practice including drip loops, grounding and weather-sealing can significantly reduce the number of customer truck rolls and subsequent outages. The best practices for these terminations are covered in the user guides for the various Cambium platforms. We would love to hear more about the techniques that work for you over at the community forum.

Cambium Networks offers two grades of qualified cable certified for use in outdoor environments along with RJ-45 connectors and compatible crimp tools. 

  1. For long-term permanent infrastructure environments we offer a copper-clad, gel-filled cable that is virtually indestructible and provide high performance over long periods of time.
  2. For shorter runs or where cost may be at a premium, we also offer an industrial grade cable with a foil shield and copper braid. Both of these cables offer excellent combinations of performance and durability.

Read more about the testing and specifications on both of these cables here.

Published September 17, 2018