Leading distributor of cabling and communications products Anixter, Skokie, Ill., recently reported that advanced procedures in its product testing laboratory verify its long-held concern that many cabling systems are operating inefficiently—even though the components comply with industry standards. Anixter says measurable errors (as many as 2,609 in less than an hour in one study) are resulting in lost or corrupted data, slower network response time, and decreased productivity.

“The industry has been conducting static, megahertz-based testing of the electrical attributes of cable, but at our Anixter Levels Lab, we can now conduct live, or active, megabits-based testing of data transmission from one end of a cabling system to another,” says Pete Lockhart, Anixter’s vice president of technology. “Testing megabits means testing data, so we are significantly increasing the ability to determine if a cabling system can reliably transfer data.”

Anixter has conducted extensive testing on how cabling interacts with network interface cards (NIC), hubs, and switches. In one active study released at the January 2000 BICSI convention, Anixter used a cabling system labeled and sold as Cat. 5e compliant with hubs and NIC cards that complied with IEEE specifications. Running on 100Base-T, the Anixter Levels Lab noted 2,609 errors within 56 minutes.