Technology From The '80s For Tomorrow’s Data Centers

The RJ45 connector is small in size but has played a big role as a user interface connector for data networking applications since its standardization in 1987. In his latest CommScope blog, Masood Shariff discusses how the connector has stood the test of time and is still being used to usher in the next generation of cabling.

RJ45I don’t have to tell you that technology moves quickly. Something new and exciting today is being upgraded and replaced before we even get the chance to fully understand how to use it. Believe it or not, there is a piece of technology that was developed in the 1980s that is still in use today and will remain in use for quite some time – the RJ45.

Since the ISO/IEC 8877 was standardized in 1987, it has rapidly become the universal ubiquitous user interface connector for data networking applications. It has also played a pivotal role in our lives. This miniature modular connector, which customers love, is driving the growth of LAN networks around the globe and has had a huge impact in the way we work, play, and socialize with one another. The magic of the RJ45 is in its ability to be re-invented to support ever increasing data rates. From its initial specification up to 3 KHz, the RJ45 is now specified up to 2GHz. This is an increase of more than 600,000 fold in information carrying capacity. Since its inception, the RJ45 has stood the test of time because of its many agreed benefits such asbackward compatibility, interoperability, broad acceptance, universal interface andproven reliability.

Backward Compatibility
One of the greatest benefits of the RJ45 is that it is backward compatible to previous generations of the connector. This works especially well for Ethernet BASE-T applications where auto-negotiation using the RJ45 connectors enables customers to connect LAN equipment operating at different speeds. This type of connection is only possible with BASE-T using the RJ45 connectivity and is not possible with fiber or twin-axial cabling. Backward compatibility with auto-negotiation allows customers to evolve their network gradually with huge savings in CapEx and OpEx.

RJ45 mechanical, electrical and interface specifications have been standardized in FCC, TIA and IEC standards. This detailed level of specifications assures excellent interoperability so customers can mix and match RJ45 cords and jacks from multiple manufacturers.

Broad Acceptance
According to some market surveys and individual company estimates, there are more than three billion RJ45s in circulation in the global market place. If we line up all the RJ45 connectors that are out there, it would circle the globe almost twice. This broad acceptance has improved the viability of LANs and the confidence of customers to continue to invest balanced twisted pair cabling. Ethernet implementations using balanced cabling with RJ45 connectors far exceed Ethernet using any other media type.

Universal Interface
Those who travel near and far are often forced to carry power adapters to connect their equipment in different parts of the world. Not so for communications using balanced twisted pair cabling. The RJ45 connector is used all around the world as the universal interface and people can connect to an outlet in the wall or at a work station with a single RJ45 patch cord.

Proven Reliability
The RJ45 connector is probably the most tested connector in the history of communications. It is made by several dozen manufacturers around the world and tested for reliability in various environmental conditions. There is a wealth of information that everybody can access to understand the capabilities of the RJ45, making it easy to understand, easy to install, easy to test, and easy to operate.

So the RJ45’s multiple benefits, along with help from the standards groups, have enabled this 1980s technology to remain relevant and play a key role in ushering in next generation technology.

To learn more about the RJ45 and its phenomenal growth during the past 25 years, be sure to check out this informative infographic.