Recent findings at the Anixter Levels Lab, Skokie, Ill., indicate a causal relationship between mismatched network components and poor network performance. The research is part of Anixter's study on how cabling systems, transmitters, and receivers interact and transfer data from a server to a PC.

According to these findings, there is a direct correlation between impedance mismatches in network components and network inefficiency. What happens is data traveling through the network becomes corrupted by changes in electrical resistance or impedance that occur at transition points.

Where impedance mismatches occur, portions of the data signal reflect back to the original source: known as return loss. Return loss creates significant problems that inhibit effective network operation. As the signal reflects back toward its source, this imposes additional noise onto the cabling system, making it more difficult for the receiver to distinguish noise from signal.

Pete Lockhart, Anixter's vice president of technology and product design, says the source of the problem often goes undetected because mismatched components can be in compliance with the minimal and grossly insufficient-industry standards for Cat. 5 and the emerging Cat. 5e cabling.

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