Near-End Crosstalk (NEXT)
When the crosstalk is detected on the same end of the cable that generated the signal, then near-end crosstalk has occurred. NEXT is most common within 20 to 30 meters (60 to 90 feet) of the transmitter. Figure 1 illustrates near-end crosstalk.
Figure 1: Near-end crosstalk (NEXT)
Crosstalk on poorly designed or poorly installed cables is a major problem with technologies such as 10Base-T and 100Base-TX. However, as long as the cable is installed correctly, NEXT is less of an issue when using 1000Base-T because the designers implemented technologies to facilitate NEXT cancellation. NEXT-cancellation techniques with 1000Base-T are necessary because all four pairs are employed for both transmitting and receiving data.
Cables that have had their twists undone (untwisted) can be problematic because the twists help cancel crosstalk. Twists are normally untwisted at the ends near the patch panels or connectors when the cable is connected. On the receiving pair of wires in a cable, the signal received at the end of the cable will be the weakest, so the signal there can be more easily interfered with. If the wires on adjacent transmit pairs are untwisted, this will cause a greater amount of crosstalk than normal. A cable should never have the wire pairs untwisted more than 0.5″ for Category 5e, and 0.375″ maximum for Category 6 cables.
Far-end crosstalk (FEXT) is similar to NEXT except that it is detected at the opposite end of the cable from where the signal was sent. Due to attenuation, the signals at the far end of the transmitting wire pair are much weaker than the signals at the near end.
The measure of FEXT is used to calculate equal-level far-end crosstalk (ELFEXT). More FEXT will be seen on a shorter cable than a longer one because the signal at the receiving side will have less distance over which to attenuate.
Equal-level far-end crosstalk (ELFEXT) is the crosstalk coupling between cabling pairs measured at the end of the cable opposite to the end of the signal source, taking into account signal loss. ELFEXT is calculated, not measured, by subtracting the attenuation of the disturber pair from the far-end crosstalk (FEXT) on the disturbed pair. The calculation describes the ratio of disturbance to the level of the desired signal; it is another indication of signal-to-noise ratio. Another way of looking at it is that the value represents the ratio between the strength of the noise due to crosstalk from end signals compared to the strength of the received data signal. You could also think of ELFEXT as far-end ACR (attenuation-to-crosstalk ratio, described later in this chapter).
Each pair-to-pair combination is measured, as the attenuation on each pair will be slightly different. If the ELFEXT value is very high, it may indicate that either excessive attenuation has occurred or that the far-end crosstalk is higher than expected.