101 Series: Lengthonomics | Fluke Networks Blog

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Get to know Lengthonomics

This is a guest blog from Carrie Goetz (D.MCO, RCDD/NTS, CDCP, CDCS, 1st Degree IM) who is the Global Technology Director Paige DataCom Solutions.

If you have not heard the term “Lengthonomics,” you should acquaint yourself with the concept.  The term simply means the economics of length in a channel to support an application.  There are many times that 100m of copper cabling is not enough to reach where the end device will reside.  To support that device, there are a few options:  install another IDF or secure location with power for a switch, install a repeater/extender inline to repeat the signal to the far end, use a digital to optical converter and change the signal to run over fiber and add an additional cable for power or an additional power point at the far end, or some combination of the above. 

Paige DataCom’s GameChanger was designed to extend the distance supported by a single channel of copper cable for Ethernet and Power of Ethernet applications.  This solution eliminates IDFs, repeaters, extenders, and transceivers for a majority of channels. GameChanger supports lengths up to 850’ requiring 10Mb/s and PoE+ and 656’ (200m) for 100Mb/s and Gigabit Ethernet and PoE+ applications supporting cameras, WAPs, additional switches, and other Ethernet IoT edge devices.   In short, the savings through the elimination of extraneous devices, their installation, support and troubleshooting within in the range of a longer reach cable has compelling “lengthonomics.”

In the example below, MSP Security Consulting did a comparison study of GameChanger versus Category 6 cable with extenders, powered fiber with and without media converters for 106 cameras in a garage project.  The project (materials only) costs are as follows:

                                   Solution                                                   Cost of Solution      % Increase*

      GameChanger                                     $  22,305                     --

                       Category 6 with Extenders                  $104,525                     369

                       Powered Fiber with Converters          $126,170                     466

                       Powered Fiber without Converters    $116,934                     424

                        *% increase over GameChanger install. Numbers rounded to nearest 100

It is apparent from the above pricing that the Lengthonomics of GameChanger offer significant savings over the next lowest option which is nearly 5x more expensive.  Note that the above pricing is for materials only and is exclusive of labor and maintenance costs.

From a channel testing and troubleshooting perspective, the Gamechanger approach is straightforward while the alternative solutions are more complex.  Consider the following diagram.  GameChanger is the only solution that allows for a single test to certify the channel prior to handover to the customer. The channel is fully documented with a single test. 

In the past, the additional devices (repeaters, transceivers, extenders) have made not only verification of the overall link problematic, but also troubleshooting failed communications difficult and time consuming at best. When additional devices are in line, they require various levels of expertise to troubleshoot.  In the case of an inline repeater that is powered, an electrician, low voltage engineer and network engineer may all be needed to troubleshoot the problem.  Where multiple devices are inline, this could take hours.  If one assumes that the hourly cost for the electrician is $100, low voltage contractor is $85, and a network technician is $125, the hourly cost for one hour of troubleshooting is $310.00.  With inline powered devices, the electrician would only be needed if the end power is at fault.  So, the low voltage contractor and network engineer would be used for a combined total of $210 per hour. 

One problem with inline repeaters/extenders is that they are not always clearly documented as to location and may get buried with subsequent layers of cable making them difficult to find.  Often these trades work with a 3-hour minimum on-site fee, making a single failure’s price nearly $1,000 per hour when all three trades are used. To further complicate things, if multiple repeaters are inline, the number of reasons that a problem exist will be compounded by the number of components.  Other things to consider will be time in lifts, up and down ladders, and should the cable be too short between components or if the repeaters can’t be found, the cost to replace the channel after troubleshooting efforts fail.   With powered fiber cable, should either the copper side or fiber side fail, both would need to be replaced as it is a hybrid cable.

And, of course, to be considered is the cost of downtime.  With security cameras, downtime could be critical due to lack of visibility to a monitored area. 

The GameChanger approach provides an elegant solution that can be documented and supported just like every other link in your structured cabling system.  Now, with announcement of support in the Fluke Networks DSX CableAnalyzer™ Series, certifying and documenting GameChanger installations is easier than ever.  The DSX Series can certify Cat 5 to Cat 8, and, with optional modules, Tier 1 and Tier 2 fiber as well as fiber endfaces.  Project managers can add any of four GameChanger test specifications to a project that includes other copper or fiber connections.  Technicians then select from only the tests included in that project – greatly reducing the chance of error. End-to-end certification of a GameChanger channel takes only 11 seconds. All results can be exported to LinkWare PC or LinkWare Live (using Wi-Fi), which can generate complete report on all links in the job.  LinkWare reports can be provided to Paige Datacom to certify the performance of the installation and qualify for the 25-year warranty.  And the DSX can also be used to troubleshoot the GameChanger cable, for example, when someone gets careless with a reciprocating saw.

Simple installation, documentation, and troubleshooting with reduced costs – with GameChanger and Fluke Networks, you really can have it all.