As a networking professional, you may be in charge of hundreds or thousands of Ethernet connections in offices, laboratories, factories, and other areas where user-accessible wiring is needed. No matter how Ethernet wiring fits into your role, keystone jack wiring needs to be something you can install and forget.
For a reliable network, you have to be certain of every connection you make. As a professional installer, you want terminating keystone jacks to be intuitive and easy, every time, on every job. As an IT professional, you want keystone termination to be simple and reliable even if you only do it as a repair job a few times a month.
Finding a Repeatable Technique
Using a punch down tool does require skill and a kit of tools to do the job right. Each connection is a result of setup and execution, with plenty of room for wiring errors from punching down and moving to the next wire eight times per jack. A steady hand is required, and if you aren’t carefully holding the keystone jack while punching down, you can end up with a wounded hand. If you happen to get a Split Pair or Reversal, you need to strip down to fresh wires and start over. For a routine job, it can be fairly tedious and error-prone.
After stripping category 6 cable, cutting the jacket, removing the pairs and cutting the spline, you may use something like a homemade jig that sort of holds the pairs in place while you punch them down. Be careful, though: for best network performance, you need to untwist only the bare minimum of wire, and you must make solid connections that are fully punched down, not just making electrical contact. Also, beware of using the wall as a backstop for your work, as you might leave little indentations that say “IT was here” near the wall plate.
Gigabit Reliability Concerns
As signaling techniques become more complicated and data pulses become shorter with higher speeds, the risk of external or even internal interference between wire pairs can cause significant data disruption and become more a major issue for network users. For some networks, the risk of signal “leaking,” is also an issue when the wire is exposed by improper wiring
Compared to previous Ethernet networks, gigabit networks start to get pretty fussy about good connections, twisted pairs integrity, proper shield ground connections and other parameters. This is especially true if you are running in electrically “noisy” environments such as around motors, electronic or hospital equipment, or other sources of interference. Gigabit networks make it trickier to find faults, so proper wiring is a good preventive measure. It’s clearly time to find a better, more “production quality” way to make your connections in a tightly controlled, predictable way.
Efficient and Effective 8-in-1 “Press” Punchdown
The Xpress Jack™ Termination Tool is a hand tool which makes keystone jack connections reliable, as if you were working on an assembly line. You line up the wires for T568A or T568B configuration, squeeze the handles, and brush away the excess wire while you admire the eight connections. It’s an excellent answer to many of the common problems of Ethernet wiring. As a press, it avoids the need to push the punchdown tool with the jack against a wall or hand. It has comfortable handles to allow repetitive use. Quality all-at-once connections are repeatable and reliable. The Xpress Jack™ makes consistent wiring easy with a hand tool, and provides peace of mind by avoiding missed punch downs and marginal connections.