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Best Solution to Resolve Cat5/6 Distance Limitation & EMF/EMR Interference

Posted on 2012-12-31
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Last Modified: 2013-01-10
We have a client that has an old manufacturing plant (1 block square) and a 200x200 ft office above one corner of the building. They have cat5 & wireless run through part of the building using a residential type AT&T 2wire router and a Comcast EMC gateway for internet access and 20 year old AT&T PBX 40 handset phone system. We are designing a new network that will replace all the wiring, wireless, include a VIOP and Windows 2008 R2 file server.

The distance from the network switch to the outer areas of the production floor is over 300 Ft.

The production floor has many 220 lines, panel boxes and machnes causing EMF. We know wireless in the production area is poor at best and we want to run cable to eliminate any outages.

My question is will a few 300 or 400 ft runs of Fiber work better that Cat5 or Cat6 from the network switch to the four main sections of the production floor?  

Any suggestions on the type of fiber and/or connections that will work the best and be trouble free? I'm looking for recommedations from experts who currently use Fiber and have experience with it.
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Question by:Tony Giangreco
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by:DarinTCH
DarinTCH earned 150 total points
ID: 38732860
Fiber is the best solution over CAT 5/6
if Cat 6 doesn't meet your needs with distance and shielding than go fiber
expect to pay more
and the volume it will handle will probably meet your needs
I converted something similar recently....
dan a single primary and backup fiber worked for me and handled all my connections
I ran these to each of 3 bidgs and then connected them back to the HQ bldg on campus
We choose underground fiber cable and had it installed via trench
choose small cisco boxes at the endpoints and a larger 'Core' switch at the HQ
could also use comparable Juniper equipment to save $ and I like Juniper...but they were already heavy into cisco switches
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Author Comment

by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38732902
The client wants Cisco equipment and understands it will cost more. They currently have 10 Pc's on the production floor using cat5.

We plan to replace the cabling from the server room to two prodution areas with Fiber to make it quicker and less suseptable to environmental interference.  Three additional areas past the 300 ft mark will be added by fiber for wireless access points and about 10 Pc's. All wiring and fiber will be run across ceiling beams and down support posts to the pc's and access points.

Can you tell me what Cisco equipment you recommend for a small buildout like this?
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by:DarinTCH
ID: 38733475
I used the catalyst series
3650 i think with Gig eth and fiber @ hq
and I had some 2900....series 2950 ?
but cisco also has some small business switches that come with 2 mini-GBIC slots
IF COST IS  A REAL ISSUE
i think its the SFE / SFG series?


just make sure it a managed switch
no tthe little 100 unmanaged type equipment

decide which type of interface Sc/st/lc
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gsmartin earned 350 total points
ID: 38738527
Personally, my preference would be to architect your infrastructure interims of MDF (Main Distribution Facility) and IDF (Individual Distribution Facilities) locations.  Typically, your MDF would be a central location where your core switches and servers reside.  Your IDF locations would be strategically placed through-out your environment with Access switches to minimize or eliminate the need to run fiber to your workstations; ultimately keeping your distance to the workstations under the 328ft Ethernet limitation.  I typically keep the limit under 300ft or less to factor in patch cables at both ends.  At a minimum use CAT5e (350Hz) or CAT6 (550Hz) for 1Gb network connectivity to the workstation.  In addition, when having the opportunity to install new network cabling I install A/B cabling; ‘A’ connections are 100% patched from patch panel to switches and ‘B’ connections are only on an as needed basis.

I would also recommend aggregating your bandwidth using LACP LAG groups between the MDF and IDF locations; especially when you are considering large number of port counts.  Use Multi-mode Fiber (6, 12, or other number of strands - depending on your needs) primarily between your MDF and IDF locations.  This will depend on the number of Access switches and aggregated bandwidth.  

Fiber should terminate to Fiber junction boxes (typically SC, ST, or LC) and then extended to switches with fiber patch cables (typically LC connector to the Switch's GBIC/SFP).  Note: You can use 50/120 or 62.5/120 for 1Gb to 10Gb connectivity.  However, 50/120 is preferred for 10Gb due to the smaller core (more focused light) for longer distances.  However, I am running multiple 10Gb connections between multiple floors over 62.5/120 without issue for the last several years.  Make sure, whatever type you choose to keep it consistent all the way through (end-to-end).

Ways to avoid or minimize Electrical Interference: Typically, run Ethernet cables across and in parallel with electrical lines/conduit; when parallel is the only option at least a foot separation between the electrical and network cabling.  Also, use STP for patch panel to workstation network drops.  Also, keep them away from lighting fixtures and other electrical components; as much as possible.

Once you have your base wired network infrastructure with MDF and IDFs, wireless should be added as a compliment for wireless devices vs. in lieu of wired networking.  Also, if you are implementing VOIP you are most likely going to be installing POE or POE+ switches.  Note POE device power requirements will vary from phones, WAP, cameras, etc..  Therefore, make sure to check the requirements of your POE devices before purchasing the switches; POE+ switches will be more versatile, but may also cost more.

As for your AT&T internet access, you should either extended your Demark T1 circuit to your MDF so the router can be located and connected directly to your core switch (my preference) or alternately extended an Ethernet cable to the MPOE to connect from the switch up to the router.  Typically, I always extend all Telco circuits from the MPOE to the MDF location via 110 blocks on both sides or 110 blocks to CAT5e patch panel, which provides better management and flexibility.
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by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38739824
I appreciate both of your comments. I was already considering the MDF/IDF setup as mentioned above. Can both of you provide feedback in what type of fiber connection and fiber line is the best over all choice for a small business of this size?
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Expert Comment

by:gsmartin
ID: 38740049
50/120 Multi-mode Fiber at least 12 strands.  This should give you up to 60Gb of bandwidth @ 10Gb per pair.  24 strands will give you double the capacity.  So depending on the number of switches and aggregated bandwidth required.  Note you will need a professional fiber installer to do the work.  So they will really explains the pros and cons of each type.  

I use multi-mode throughout my environment and single-mode only for my Telco circuits.  Single-mode fiber is typically used for longer distances such as 80km; or multi-mode of distances up to 600 meters.
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Expert Comment

by:DarinTCH
ID: 38742593
i agree with martin Fiber info
connectors
SC and LC are still the most popular....
but I'll recommend LC
its newer smaller and I like em
SC is fine but ...a little older
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Expert Comment

by:gsmartin
ID: 38742597
Agreed... Everything is LC these days.  Unfortunately, I still have SC for my Fiber Multimode interconnects and have had ST in the past , but if I installed new fiber I would go with LC all around.
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by:gsmartin
ID: 38742606
Although, about two years ago my Telco provider drop in a 96 strands of Fiber with a SC interconnect/junction box.  Not sure why they choose SC vs LC.  Probably becuase they had a big inventory of them.  For standard network LC would be the way to go.
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Author Comment

by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38742645
I appreciate this feedback. I'm not downplaying any thought of fiber, I'm just looking for opinions if they object to the final cost.

We are only running about 700 feet from the router. Since there is a lot of EMF/EMR in the factory, I thought fiber would be the best way to go to ensure speed, no signal loss and modern technology.

What are your thoughts regarding using Sheilded Cat6 instead of Fiber? I know it's past the 328 Ft limit, but would it work if a good managed switch was inserted every 200 Ft?
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by:gsmartin
ID: 38742829
Fiber!  Shielded CAT6 should be fine with EMF/EMR under 328FT (not over), but needs to be grounded on both ends.  Honestly, I would test Shielded CAT6 on areas of high EMF/EMR concern.

Previously, I worked at an HVAC manufacturing company that used shielded CAT5e with no issues.  We had an IDF on the manufacturing floor with Fiber between MDF.  They had a lot of transformers and high voltage lines for all of the sheet metal and other type of heavy machinery; we even had WiFi accross the warehouse and production floor.
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by:gsmartin
ID: 38742833
You do not want to daisy-chain switches.
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Author Comment

by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38746804
Hi Experts: in your experience, is daisy chaining a few switches to extend cat5/cat6 past the 328 foot limit a good depenable solution? I need to go to about 500 Ft in a few directions.
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by:DarinTCH
ID: 38747044
weeeellll
can't say i've never done it....but I wouldn't recommend it
I've done it as a temporary-- bandaid solution

I still think fiber is the best way to go
I used shielded before and although it worked well enough
it cost more for the cable and connectors ....
so fiber made more sense in the long run....excuse the pun
and ur talkin 700' not 400-500'
so you double the distance++

I argued that we also had the ability to expand....
p.s. since it was there we soon found a reason to use the extra capacity
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Author Closing Comment

by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38764523
I appreciate the info. We are still in dicsussions with the client. I will probably post a follow up question latter.
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