How Cisco’s Multigigabit Technology can increase network speeds

Cisco's Catalyst Multigigabit switches with NBASE-T will help users get more than 1 gig of speed from their existing infrastructure -- without having to rip everything up and replace it.

How Cisco’s Multigigabit Technology can increase network speeds
Martyn Williams/IDGNS

If you remember, in a previous Switch IT Up blog post I referenced Wireless AC and Wave 2 — some of the things that we could expect and some of the problems we could run up against. Things like having enough bandwidth to our APs to support a 6.8 gig connection.

So, what can be done about that?

Well, in 2015, Cisco introduced its Catalyst Multigigabit Technology, along with a new group of products, that address that issue and allow users to get more than just that 1 gig speed that most people have in their closets or in their infrastructure. How can users leverage that and still use their preexisting infrastructure rather than having to rip everything out and replace it?

Cisco’s Catalyst Multigigabit Technology is positioned to capitalize on something called NBASE-T. NBASE-T is a technology that signal boosts copper Ethernet. It will enable users to use stretches of hundred-meter cable of CAT5e and go beyond that 1 gig threshold into 2.5 gig, 5 gig, and so on. There are new speeds that we are going to be able to achieve. So, users can start at 100 megs but can go to 1 gig, 2.5 gig, 5 gig, and 10 gig. Most of those speeds are achievable over CAT5e. You still need your CAT6a for your 10 gig or better.

Cisco products that make use of NBASE-T

It is likely that Cisco has more products in mind, or in development, to take advantage of NBASE-T, but for now here is a look at some of the products currently available.

  • The Cisco Catalyst 9400 series includes modular access switches that are built for security, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the cloud. They support up to 8 Tbps and form one of the building blocks for SD-Access.
  • The Cisco Catalyst 9300 series, which we discussed in an earlier Switch IT Up blog post.
  • The Catalyst 4500E now has a blade. There will be a 48-port blade, and of those 48 ports, 12 of them will be Mulitgigabit. So, it's not a full blade offering at this point, but there will be ports on there that will allow this. And it is an autosensing technology, as well. So, whatever you have plugged into that port, it will jump to the speed that's applicable.
  • There are now two new Catalyst 3850 series switches. A 48-port and a 24-port, which have 12 and 24 ports available for Multigigabit. Then there is a 3560c, a compact switch.
  • The Cisco 3650 series offers high-density, fixed-access, stackable enterprise network switches for converged wire and wireless networks for mobile devices.

An FAQ that has more information can be found here.

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