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The Idea Train needs Cat. 7A

Reliable high-speed data connections for Deutsche Bahn
Finn Timmermann
Finn Timmermann
Product Manager, HARTING Electric
High-speed data connections for Deutsche Bahn

Digitisation will also change the mobility industry. Time and time again,Deutsche Bahn is the subject of criticism. Hardly any other mode of transport is subjected to as many demands as are placed on trains. Deutsche Bahn must be on time, shuttle passengers and goods quickly to their destination while still offering a maximum in comfort and safety. Ever more employees spend time commuting, underscoring the importance of transforming travel time into time spent usefully. Digitisation is slated to fundamentally change the mobility industry, as the "Idea Train" of Deutsche Bahn demonstrates.

If Deutsche Bahn intends to turn its "Idea Train" concept into reality, reliable high-speed data connections will also be needed. Consequently, the constantly growing demand for interfaces with high data transmission rates in the rail vehicle construction sector comes as no surprise. In future, leading manufacturers will opt for transmission category Cat. 7A interfaces for their infotainment systems. This will permit them to achieve greater security against unwanted interference, especially in light of growing data streams associated with WiFi on board trains. Future-proofing here entails designing the interfaces to be as powerful as possible, not least since continued data traffic growth in railway systems is in the cards.

Han Gigabit Modul
Han Gigabit Modul Cat. 7A

The transmission of high data rates in train communication is no problem with the Han® Gigabit module . The Gigabit module is characterised by its 360-degree shielding and reliable transmission characteristics. The module was originally developed for the bandwidth of 10-Gigabit Ethernet, Category 6A. HARTING modified the module to orient it for use in Category 7A. Category 7A (Cat. 7A) is specified for an operating frequency of 1 GHz. For the above conversion, HARTING enhanced the Cat. 6A components with components that comply with Cat. 7A. As a result, the connector does not present an obstacle to increased bandwidths. All the links in the chain - connectors, wires, and peripherals - are equally up-to-date, which enables a proper Cat. 7A channel. The Han® Gigabit Module Cat. 7A thereby enables the future-proof design of modular interfaces for data communication in rail traffic. A revised shielding concept has also improved signal integrity. This positions HARTING as a pioneer in terms of conversion to the Cat. 7A standard, and is the only vendor to date offering modules for data transmission in this frequency range.

In order to describe the performance of a single transmission component, the individual components of a link (channel) - which typically consists of connector components, cables and patch cords - are divided into categories.

In a link, the least powerful component (category) determines the link class of the entire system. Higher categories automatically cover the categories below them.

The categories

  • Categories (Cat.) 1 and 2 are only informally defined. Categories 3 and 4 are no longer commercially relevant (but can be found in legacy installations).
  • Cat. 5 is the predominant installed base found today. It is used for signal transmission with high data transmission rates (operating frequencies up to 100 MHz).
  • Cat. 6 is intended for operating frequencies up to 250 MHz, as transmission speed suffers over longer transmission distances.
  • Cat. 7 is a global standard (except in the US). Category 7 enables operating frequencies up to 600 MHz. A cable, for example, meets the requirements of the IEEE 802.3an standard and is therefore suitable for 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
  • Cat. 7A is specified for a transmission frequency of 1 GHz. This frequency range enables the implementation of Link Class FA cabling systems for high-speed networks such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet, broadband cable networks for television and 802.11ac wireless hotspot cabling.


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