Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Featured Article

The IEEE 802.3bz Standard Helps Overcome Wireless Bottlenecks

February 16, 2017

Businesses of all sizes today are experiencing a surge in network demand that, in most cases, is overtaxing their ability to make necessary digital transformations to accommodate the new business world of mobility, the Internet of Things and cloud computing. The networks of 10 years ago simply cannot handle the demands being made of them today, and this is hampering vendors of solutions who make promises to buyers, but can’t guarantee those promises will come true with existing infrastructure.

According to Phil Delansay writing for Network World, one major problem is that the Wi-Fi networks many organizations depend on today in the form of wireless access points (APs) have far exceeded the capacity – in some cases, 5Gbps of wireless data  -- of existing Ethernet cabling and network switches to handle the high speeds needed for today’s digital business. Gigabit Ethernet maxes out at a transfer rate of about one Gpbs.

Think of it as an industrial water pipe bringing vast quantities of water to your old kitchen tap…regardless of how much water you’re transporting, the kitchen tap can still only handle a trickle. Replacing the existing cabling is a very tall order and outside of many companies’ budgets and capabilities. About 90 percent of the installed cables in large- to medium-sized companies are legacy twisted pair copper cables designed one gigabit Ethernet.

“To solve this problem, a new, wired Ethernet technology was developed, with the ability to deliver speeds of up to  five Gbit/s over 100 m of the legacy Cat5e/Cat6 cables,” wrote Delansay. “Major industry players, led by Aquantia and Cisco, co-founded in 2014 the NBASE-T Alliance to develop and promote the technology within the enterprise and SMB environment.”

What’s so very attractive about it is that the technology is able to run over the existing Ethernet cabling infrastructure, allowing companies to more easily “turbocharge” their networks. The IEEE 802.3bz standard, which was approved just last fall, can increase network speeds to 2.5G and 5G bps over existing Cat 5e/Cat 6 twisted pair cable. Products that support Multi-Gigabit Ethernet NBASE-T/IEEE 802.3bz could be the answer for companies already experiencing wireless network bottlenecks but who are unable at this time to rip and replace cabling, a task that could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars and significant business disruption.

“Today, a wide range of 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet switches and APs are available, covering both the higher-end enterprise markets as well as the price-sensitive SMB and SoHo applications,” wrote Delansay.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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