IDEAL Networks helps installers overcome MPTL testing challenges
As convergence to digital IP systems continues, IDEAL Networks is helping installers certify cabling that has Modular Plug Terminated Links (MPTL) thanks to a new software update for its LanTEK III cable certifier.
“Certifying MPTL cabling isn’t for everybody,” says Dan Payerle Barrera, Global Product Manager for IDEAL Networks. “However, if you’re installing a high-performance cabling infrastructure using cat 6A cable for wireless access points, AV equipment and CCTV cameras, or an application anticipating high-bandwidth demand, it’s important to understand the challenges and requirements of certifying MPTLs.”
“The good news is that those who already have cat 6A Permanent Link and Channel Adapters for the IDEAL Networks LanTEK III cable certifier will only require a software update in order to be able to certify MPTL,” Dan continues.
The existing IDEAL Networks cat 6A Channel Adapter for the LanTEK III cable certifier already uses the approved “centred” jack that can be used to measure the performance of RJ45 plugs. Therefore, to equip the tester with the capability to test MPTL, users can simply download a free software upgrade from IDEAL Networks at www.idealnetworks.net. Once the software is installed, by configuring a LanTEK III with a Channel Adapter on one handset and a cat6A Permanent Link Adapter on another, a proper MPTL certification test can be performed.
‘MPTL’ is a new term that refers to an Ethernet cable that is terminated with a female socket (jack) on one side, and a male plug on the other. This practice enables the cable to be plugged directly into a device, thereby connecting it to a network without installing an additional outlet. This proves useful where the location of the device makes installing an outlet challenging, such as devices on ceilings, external walls or in media cabinets.
Figure 1: Standard Permanent Link test with jacks terminated at both ends of the link. The connections at both ends of the cable are measured.
Figure 2: MPTL test with RJ45 plug on far end of link. Special Channel Adapter required to measure performance of the RJ45 plug.
MPTL installations are not new and have been done for years by security, A/V and Wi-Fi integrators who rarely certified the cable, as opposed to cabling contractors. There were no standards in place to test this type of installation and installers who tried to create ad-hoc testing configurations often had inconsistent test results. Therefore, as digital IP controlled systems with direct plugged-in devices have become more prevalent, to meet the increased demand for certifying MPTL cable the standards needed to evolve. A comprehensive update to the TIA-568 series, the TIA-568.2-D, will include MPTL as a recognised cabling topology when published in mid-2018.
“As well as understanding how MPTL differs from other installations and the details of the new standard, installers also need to consider the equipment required to conduct performance tests,” says Dan.
Whereas typical Permanent Link (PL) is installed with a female socket at each end and then tested with approved certifier test leads using qualified male RJ45 plugs, an MPTL has a male plug terminated at one end, so the certifier must be equipped with a female socket to test the performance of the plug.
“Not all RJ45 tester sockets can be used to measure plug performance as the socket must be centred,” explains Dan. “’Centring’ being the term used to define a connector whose performance is in the middle of the acceptable performance envelope.”
Following the free software update, the LanTEK III cable certifier with Channel Adapters will be ready to use for MPTL testing. Those that do not have a LanTEK III Channel Adapter already can purchase these individually from IDEAL Networks, providing the best value solution to the challenges of MPTL. Separate Channel Adapters will be required by users looking to test cat 6 and 5e MPTL cables.
“Our high-performing IDEAL Networks testers use quality components and are developed with the future needs, and budgets, of installers in mind,” explains Dan. “As cabling standards change there is no need to invest in large amounts of expensive equipment as with our solutions, normally only a software update or small accessory is required.”
“Plus, our solution for certifying MPTL will pre-date the new standard being finalised, so installers can rest assured that they are equipped to conduct tests as soon as it is published,” he continues.
However, having the right tester is not the only factor for ensuring MPTL installations can pass the standardised test. As explained in IDEAL Networks’ White Paper ‘The Rise of Modular Plug Terminated Links’ the type of male RJ45 plugs typically used in these installations are low cost, low quality plugs. These are not of a suitable quality to pass certification, so tests will return a fail result. Therefore, installers that need to certify MPTL must first ensure that the installation uses proper field-terminatable plugs for cat 6/6A (and higher) performance. This is the only way to obtain accurate test results and proof of performance for customers.
To learn more about effectively testing MPTL cabling installations, download the White Paper ‘The Rise of Modular Plug Terminated Links’ from www.idealnetworks.net, where you can also download the free LanTEK III certifier upgrade software.