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NBASE-T Alliance Members Demonstrate Real-World Need for New Standards

June 21, 2017

The NBASE-T Alliance, an industry-wide cooperative effort focused on enabling the development and deployment of products that support 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet, was represented by 10 member companies that held product demonstrations featuring 2.5G and 5G Ethernet speeds in a variety of applications at the alliance’s Interop ITX event held last month in Las Vegas. The 10 companies included Aquantia, Aukua Systems, Cisco, Cu-Test, Fluke Networks, Intel, Microsemi, Panduit, Spirent and The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL). The NBASE-T specification was released in late 2014 when the industry came together to define a new 2.5G and 5G Ethernet specification.

The goal was to showcases how newly introduced NBASE-T products can be applied in a growing number of real-world scenarios—from enterprise and industrial to service provider and home applications—so that networks can offer faster than 1 Gbps Ethernet at the access layer without workplace disruption and costly cable plant upgrade, according to the NBASE-T Alliance. The demonstrations were particularly relevant this year in light of ratification of the 2.5G/5G BASE-T IEEE 802.3bz standard and the rapidly growing number of NBASE-T products.

According to a recent blog post by Michael Klempa, Ethernet and Storage Technical Manager at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), a member of the NBASE-T Alliance, a moment of irony arose when Wi-Fi at the event proved to be slow.

“Droves of eager engineers looking to learn a thing or two about the new spin on a classic technology congregated below the light blue banner waving overhead of the NBASE-T Alliance booth. When asked by a novice who could benefit from NBASE-T technology, the easy answer was anyone at the Interop ITX event,” wrote Klempa. “Wi-Fi was particularly slower than usual, possibly from the bottleneck caused by everyone simultaneously trying to tweet about the amazing next generation BASE-T demo. The added bandwidth would have facilitated instantaneous internet access.”

In true Interop(erability) spirit, 10 companies spanning the enterprise and small/medium business ecosystem created a fully functional network highlighting many of the key NBASE-T benefits right on the show floor, according to Klempa.

“This interoperability between several NBASE-T enabled products included enterprise network equipment, consumer market and test and measurement equipment,” he wrote. “Specifically, we highlighted wireless access points (APs), switches, and client devices; consumer market devices including digital media players and smart TVs; and T&M solutions. All products were connected via Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a cables in lengths extending up to 100m, and a worst case 6-Around-1 bundle configuration demonstrated network connectivity in the most stressful of traffic conditions.”

Going forward, industry analysts are predicting an immediate and sustained growth of 2.5G and 5G Ethernet. The Dell’Oro Group has stated that it believes enterprise users are eager for technology that will support the increase in wireless bandwidth as networks transition to 802.11ac Wave 2 and 802.11ax.  Dell’Oro expects shipments to exceed five million ports this year, and continue to grow in 2018 as 1 Gbps shipments peak and begin their decline.

Edited by Alicia Young

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