Interop 2016

Interop: NBase-T makes “low-speed” Ethernet splash

Server NICs, switches from Cisco, HP’s Aruba, Fluke, NetGear and others demonstrate NBase-T interoperability

LAS VEGAS --The growing number of vendors supporting 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet over twisted pair copper cabling demonstrated the interoperability of a variety of new gear at the Interop event here.

The NBase-T Alliance showed off an assortment of 2.5 and 5GBase-T products – from switches to NICs -- it says show new applications for NBase-T products, including the ability to aggregate data at 2.5G and 5G Ethernet data across 802.11ac Wave2 access points and improved speed links to network-attached storage devices. The Alliance noted that Dell’Oro Group predicted recently that there will be a doubling of ports shipped every year in the 2.5G and 5G Ethernet market over the next 3 years.

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In a nutshell, the alliance, which includes Cisco, HP’s Aruba, Fluke, NetGear and others -- wants to facilitate the adoption of the lower speed multi-gigabit Ethernet on existing Gigabit Ethernet cabling products.

The technical baselines adopted by the 802.3bz Task Force are consistent with the NBASE-T specification (also known as IEEE P802.3bz) and all NBASE-T products are expected to be compatible with the final standard, which is on track for ratification later this year, the group stated.

There is a demand for the products that support faster data rates on Cat5e and Cat6 twisted-pair copper cables particularly matching the bandwidth growth driven by 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Points.

“Wave 2 access is the primary driver for NBase-T and it is a cost-effective alterative if customers don’t need the cabling expense of moving up to 10Gb/sec services,” said Laurent Masia, senior product line manager of NetGear.

Further, from a Network World article earlier this year: Cisco said 52% of mobile data traffic will be offloaded from cellular networks to the fixed network through WiFi in 2018, increasing the amount of wireless data transmitted over WLAN in enterprise branch and campus networks. As the Wave 2 of 802.11ac WiFi is rolled out, traffic aggregated on APs will surpass multiple gigabits per second and require both the access point and the Ethernet switch ports to scale beyond 1G.

“There is a diversity of customer needs between 1Gb/sec and 10G bit/sec Ethernet and everyone wants to get the most out of their installed systems, the speeds in 802.3bz address that,” added David Chalupsky, Ethernet Alliance BASE-T subcommittee chair and principal engineer at Intel.

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