How NBASE-T Ethernet will give LANs a vital boost in performance

How NBASE-T Ethernet will give LANs a vital boost in performance

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Although speeds for the wireless internet have been getting ever faster over the past few years, businesses and other users on a campus environment connected through LAN have been used to the fact that the Gigabit Ethernet has only been able to operate at its standard speed: 1GbE.

Some specialised servers linked up with switches have been able to experience 10 GbE, but the industry standard has been fixed at that much-slower velocity since before the new millennium.

However, if you're a business owner, you might be about to see things change thanks to NBASE-T Ethernet. This is the common term for the IEEE 802.3z standard and it came about after a group of industry leaders including Cisco joined together to come up with a new method of transmission that would give the Gigabit Ethernet a much-needed boost.

They started work on it in late 2014 and it was ratified last year, which means it could be coming onto the market very soon.

What is NBASE-T Ethernet?

NBASE-T Ethernet is a way of downshifting the signalling rates that are used by those specialised servers offering 10 GbE by up to half, meaning - crucially - that the signal can be supported by most existing copper cable.

It enables uninterrupted network operation at high speeds, even when the transmission environment changes; for example, when people move from building to building on a university campus.

Importantly for companies of all sizes, the new standard means they can use the copper cable network they already have to provide speeds of up to 2.5 GbE and 5 GbE. All they will have to do is buy some simple new hardware and plug it in to the current infrastructure to enjoy a huge boost in transmission speeds.

There will be no costly and time-consuming swapping of the cable connecting people's desktop devices to the wiring cabinets outside, something many industry experts no doubt thought could never be achieved.

What are the benefits for businesses?

Many companies have been experiencing connectivity problems as they try to use a growing number of devices in the workplace, such as IP cameras that are high on bandwidth use. Because NBASE-T Ethernet delivers via Power over Ethernet (PoE), they're covered in case of failure and there's also a fast, wired link for any devices connected to the router.

There's also an advantage when it comes to employees who need to move from place to place, such as from warehouse to factory floor, over the course of their day while remaining connected to Wi-Fi.

With such a useful, effective new standard being rolled out, it isn't likely to be long before we see businesses and indeed savvy homeowners adopting these faster ports to power their Ethernet.

Indeed, the Dell'Oro Group recently said it expects a surge in NBASE-T product shipments to five million ports this year and an associated and sustained growth of 2.5G and 5G Ethernet as a result.

This could be followed by a doubling of ports shipped every year until 2020, it said.

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