Come together to make it better

The world’s leading network cabling and component manufacturers have teamed up to announce a new industry specification to define network performance.

This new technical specification, called Anixter Levels XP, is claimed to be the most reliable performance measurement of network cabling and components to date. As faster networking access methods, such as Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, become a reality, the effect a cabling system can have on network performance is becoming more and more apparent. Lower performing cabling systems can hinder transmission of data, contributing to lost productivity, referred to by Anixter as ‘slowtime’.

Anixter, in cooperation with Belden Wire and Cable, Panduit, The Siemon Company, CommScope, Berk-Tek, Ortonics, Krone and Lucent Technologies, is testing network cabling systems with active data signals to determine how the cabling system interacts with network electronics. Depending on their performance, cabling systems receive either the new Level XP 6 or Level XP 7 rating.

Until now, all cabling systems were tested with passive electrical signals which could not give a true indication of how the cabling system would work when active data signals were transmitted.

The Levels XP specification is the result of research carried out at Anixter’s Levels Lab in Mt. Prospect, IL. Anixter developed the new performance specifications in response to findings that revealed a strong correlation between corrupted data and mismatched components.

The Levels Lab revealed that data is most often corrupted at transition points where a patch cord plugs into information outlets or panels, or where horizontal cable is terminated. Under the new XP specifications, cable and components are carefully engineered and matched to perform at levels that greatly exceed previously existing industry standards, resulting in significantly fewer data errors.

Pete Lockhart, Anixter’s Vice President of Technology and Product Design, explains that XP creates a universal standard that, for the first time, measures the quality of data as it travels through a network system.

‘Existing industry specifications can be compared to manufacturing standards for automobile tires,’ Lockhart stated. ‘Although the brands meet the same manufacturing requirements, you wouldn’t mix Firestone with Goodyear. They would be mismatched and would ultimately damage your vehicle. Similarly, mismatched network components may comply with minimally prescribed industry standards, but were never designed to function together.’

Prior to the development of Levels XP, the source of network problems often went undetected due to the perception that existing cabling performance standards adequately addressed network performance issues. ‘Network industry standards reflect minimum requirements, and therefore insure only minimal performance,’ Lockhart said.

To receive more information on the Anixter Levels XP program, visit their website at