Upgrading the Enterprise LAN to NBASE-T
NBASE-T is shaping up to be a popular choice for organizations that want to upgrade from 1GbE without going through the expense and hassle of ripping out their network cabling to accommodate 10GbE. With standards for 2.5GbE and 5GbE now properly ratified, the decision for most companies is what type of equipment they need to invest in to achieve a successful upgrade.
Basically, companies with CAT5e and CAT6 cabling in their networks will need to install a switch with NBASE-T ports and will also need NBASE-T LAN adapters at their endpoints. NBASE-T Alliance members Cisco and Netgear offer switches designed to connect access points to the network as well as power them using Ethernet (PoE). There are less options available when it comes to adapters, with StarTech network cards being one of the few on the market.
One of the main goals for companies that choose to upgrade to NBASE-T is to offer a higher-speed link to their wireless LAN access points (WLAN APs). This will enable better speeds and performance for bandwidth-hungry applications like audio and video and vertical niche solutions like medical imaging systems. NBASE-T is also a great fit for industrial applications, where networks are likely to be comprised of compact LAN switches that can take advantage of the increased bandwidth.
While NBASE-T is still a relatively new concept, the market forecast for the technology and associated products is bright. Dell’Oro Group forecasts the number of ports shipped each year in the 2.5GbE and 5GbE range will double each year over the next few years. New switches and adapters will come to market during that timeframe as well, offering choices and driving accessibility and a more affordable price point.
"Despite the limited availability of products, market shipments of NBASE-T in the second half of 2016 surged," said Tam Dell'Oro, president of Dell'Oro Group. "We interpret these results as a reflection that enterprise users are hungry for multi-gigabit bandwidth to support the traffic from their wireless devices. The confluence of widespread availability of NBASE-T Ethernet switches are now matching the widespread availability of 802.11ac Wave 2 Wireless LAN products. Both go hand-in-hand to reduce frustration of mobile users in the enterprise.”
"Looking at 2017, we have raised our forecast as we predict NBASE-T port shipments will proliferate, eclipsing 5 M ports, as merchant silicon-based switches come to market,” added Dell’Oro. “By later this year and into early 2018, we expect the massive annual shipment levels of 1 Gbps to peak, then begin to decline, as users migrate their campus networks."
The future is certainly bright for Multi-Gigabit-Ethernet, and early adopters will benefit from speed and performance gains throughout their networks. As NBASE-T becomes the ubiquitous networking choice for a range of vertical markets, we can expect to see new Alliance members and a broader range of affordable switches and adapter solutions.
Edited by Maurice Nagle