Latest Generation Of Wi-Fi Access Points Drive Multi-Gigabit Wired Ethernet Upgrade Cycle

Advances and standards make faster connections available to enterprise, small business alike

800x467 image enterprise 01

Organizations from the Fortune 100 to the 28 million small businesses in the United States are embracing mobility, Big Data, social media and cloud computing. This digital transformation in turn is placing crushing capacity demands on enterprise and small and mid-sized business networks.

And while these “third-platform” technologies promise agility and speed, for many SMBs, the promise of faster business is too often stifled by legacy network infrastructure. The problem is the Wi-Fi networks many organizations depend on have sped past the capacity of ubiquitous Ethernet cabling to handle the high speeds needed for today’s digital business. Wireless Access Points (APs) today can transfer data faster than the Ethernet cables and network switch can support.

The latest generation of Wi-Fi APs integrates the IEEE 802.11ac standard, driving a max throughput of as much as 5Gbps of wireless data required to be transported on the wired infrastructure between the APs and the wiring closet Ethernet switches. Unfortunately, in many enterprise and medium-sized business networks, legacy Ethernet cables are Cat 5e, which were deployed for Gigabit Ethernet topping out at a 1 Gpbs data transfer rate. That standard — GbE – was adopted 15 years ago, and it’s running out of steam.

And there’s the bottleneck.

10 Gigabit Ethernet would be the answer for the wired infrastructure to gain the speed advantages of APs using the 802.11ac standard — save for the fact that more than 90% of the installed base of cables in the enterprise and SMB environments is composed of legacy twisted pair copper cables, such as Cat5e and Cat6, that were designed only for 1 Gigabit Ethernet. And replacing the cables already installed in the walls and the ceilings is highly disruptive and expensive in these environments.

To solve this problem, a new, wired Ethernet technology was developed, with the ability to deliver speeds of up to 5Gbit/s over 100m of the legacy Cat5e/Cat6 cables. 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 environments.

Today, with more than 45 members, the alliance counts in its ranks all major system OEMs and silicon vendors. Being able to run over the existing Ethernet cabling infrastructure indeed made the new technology very attractive to the equipment manufacturers who quickly jumped on the bandwagon and developed next gen Multi-Gigabit Ethernet switches and Wi-Fi APs. Examples of those products available today in the market can be found on the NBASE-T website.

But Ethernet hasn’t grown to be so widely deployed without standardization, and IEEE has historically played a critical role in driving consensus towards industry-wide standards. The nascent Multi-Gig technology unanimously received acceptance from the IEEE forum. In September 2016, the technology was also formally approved as the IEEE 802.3bz standard.

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.

Gigabit Ethernet is a 15-year-old technology, and it shows. It’s now time to turn the page and upgrade the network to the high-speed digital age. Latest generations of smart phones, tablets and laptops are all equipped with 802.11ac Wi-Fi chipsets.

It’s only a matter of (short) time before your employees and users will complain that they don’t see any benefit of the faster wireless technology if your wired infrastructure is still stuck in 2002! Get on the bus now with Multi-Gigabit Ethernet and deliver the efficiency and experience your wireless clients demand and deserve.

For more information, visit www.aquantia.com.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.