why haven't ethernet connectors changed? (Ramdom thoughts)

Brandt, Ralph ralph.brandt at pateam.com
Fri Dec 21 23:44:00 UTC 2012

I have seen the sixty or so messages about this and have marveled how
many can major on the minutia and ignore the obvious which Brielle
brings out.  

First, Ethernet connectors have changed - Thicknet (RG8) with
transceiver cables, thinnet, and now CAT series cables. Yep, I have
bored in the vampire taps and crimped thinnet.

In another venue I work we still have millions maybe billions of lines
of COBOL code. Why?  Because it works.  Because the cost of conversion
to something else is prohibitive.  It is being done by attrition and I
might say, painfully.  One organization I am aware of was to have been
extracted from the tar baby of its COBOL code that was originally
written in 1968 in COBOL D before Y2K had to fix all of that to run
properly over the millennium.  And one company I am aware of had to
convert its COBOL F to COBOL II to get there. I haven't followed it
since 2003 but they were still working on getting free from COBOL then
when I was offered a job helping them extricate from the mess.  I was
having too much fun with WAN's. BTW, I am retiring 2/28/13 - if anyone
has a COBOL and/or CICS job out there with the right location and
situation I may be interested.  I am fantastic as translating COBOL into
a language JAVA coders can understand.  I write JAVA, I do not call JAVA
coders programmers.  Programming is the next thing to retirement.

And RJ-45 has some of the same characteristics. It works.  There are
trillions of them out there in use and on equipment (the corresponding
jacks).  There are millions of techs who can put them on. Well, maybe
that is going a little too far.  I have seen too many techs who claim to
know how who should be hung with their cabling.  They are used for
everything so nearly every wiring discipline knows them.  There are
millions of sets of tools to attach them.  

I just saw an installation where a ham radio transmitter was set up in a
hospital "in case everything else fails" and they put the transmitter at
the roof, ran a 20 foot pre-made coaxial cable with PL259's to the
antenna and two CAT-5's down to the operator area where they put the
control.  The transceiver allows separation of the control head and the
transceiver. The one cat 5 carries the controls - the connectors on the
units are RJ-45.  The other CAT-5?  They made one pair out of the CAT5,
tied 4 wires together to get enough copper to handle the speaker.
Reason?  The hospital wiring staff did not know how to put on a PL259 on
RG-213. (Similar to RG-8). But they could run CAT-5 and put on RJ-45's.

So to change we have to provide training, tools, adapters (another
nightmare), labor to convert and for what?  There is no other connector
I am aware of and I haven't heard of any serious contender from anyone
here.  That means 30 million dollars development (my estimate) and five
years till we get the beta models. And for what?  I can't see any way we
could get more than a 20% higher density, even ignoring noise and
crosstalk issues.  And even if we can get 50% more would it be worth it?

Answer, MAYBE in some very specialized and/or badly designed situations
(concentrating too much copper in one place rather than distributing to
"close up switches" with fiber) where a higher density would be of
value, yes.  But now we create another set of adapters.  

I am a Ham Radio Operator - Extra Class.  I work with Emergency
Communications.  Having one more connector type is one more big
headache.  Yes, if there is a real advantage, fine.  Most ham hand held
transceivers went from the venerable and solid BNC to the SMA a few
years ago.  They screw a 18 inch antenna on an SMA!  Guess what?  They
break when you are lucky, otherwise they go intermittent.  And just to
make it more interesting one of the Chinese suppliers of very inferior
HT's uses an SMA male on the radio, not an SMA female like everyone
else.  So now instead of having three antenna connector types in general
use, N, PL259, BNC, each with their strengths and weaknesses and reasons
to use in certain places, we have 5 with no serous reason for two of
them. Note that HT's have used BNC and SMA, mobiles and bases are
generally N, PL259 with a few BNC.  I have standardized on bas/mobile at
PL259 and SMA male for HT to maintain sanity.  And to be able to work
with others who have a dukes mixture I carry a small box of adapters.

The IT industry trail is littered with computer languages that were
written to fix some non-existent problem and all that did was create
more confusion.  Many claimed to allow anyone to code programs,
something that is true but when you use people who really do not know
how to program you produce tons of shit code that is nasty to make
changes to - and maintenance of programs is usually 90% of life cycle
costs.  It is the same in a wire room when you let someone who doesn't
know how to properly place wire do it.  PASCAL is one example I can
cite.  It had absolutely no advantage over several other languages
existing at the time but academia thought it was cute and pushed it. A
few industries used it and created havoc with it.  There were others
like Ideal that many of you never heard of because they were never
widely used but created a conversion opportunity when they were no
longer supported. 

Ralph Brandt

-----Original Message-----
From: Brielle Bruns [mailto:bruns at 2mbit.com] 
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 10:16 AM
To: NANOG list
Subject: Re: why haven't ethernet connectors changed?

Some of us still have a stock of legacy gear and cables - things like
v35 cables for connecting to CSU/DSUs, and even the occasional AUI hub.

You wouldn't believe how much people will pay for legacy computer gear
when they need it to keep their business going.


Sent from my iPhone

On Dec 21, 2012, at 7:57 AM, Matthew Black <Matthew.Black at csulb.edu>

> Only $55.95 for a 3-foot transceiver cable. What was more surprising
is that Black Box is still around.
> matthew black
> california state university, long beach
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michael Thomas [mailto:mike at mtcc.com] 
> Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 10:20 AM
> To: NANOG list
> Subject: why haven't ethernet connectors changed?
> I was looking at a Raspberry Pi board and was struck with how large
the ethernet
> connector is in comparison to the board as a whole. It strikes me:
> connectors haven't changed that I'm aware in pretty much 25 years.
Every other
> cable has changed several times in that time frame. I imaging that if
> cared, ethernet cables could be many times smaller. Looking at wiring
> etc, it seems like it might be a big win for density too.
> So why, oh why, nanog the omniscient do we still use rj45's?
> Mike

More information about the NANOG mailing list