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January 11, 2018

Standards You Need to Know for 2018


One step forward, two steps back seemed to be part of the theme for wireless. 10G 802.11AC was ratified some time ago. This standard created 10G capable Wi-Fi. The trick was that two Category 6A cables are required to the access point. Assuming that companies would have a hard time upgrading and installing these cables, chip manufacturers created two new standards for 2.5Gb/s and 5Gb/s chips that run over 5e and 6 cabling respectively.  These are a change from moving forward with higher speeds to moving backward with more interim speed options.

No one doubts that IoT is increasing bandwidth requirements and that 1Gb/s simply won’t be enough, but 2.5 and 5 may simply be Band-Aids to an inevitable upgrade that will be required anyway. As a company steps through the progression, the shift moves from upgrading and installing a cable, to the installation of 3 generations of access points moving from 1 to 10G.

What the technology on these chips do provide is parallel processing technology progressing speeds for 25, 50, and higher multiples (predominantly for data centers) all of which are ready for prime time and commercially available.

On the cabling front, ISO updated their popular 11801 standards giving each part the slated 10-year refresh for today’s technologies. The most notable refresh is the recommended minimum cabling for office environments moving from 5E to 6. Installers have vastly been moving to 6 anyway. While you can run several applications on 5E, there is no doubt that 6 is the better choice for PoE, PoE+. We are at a time in the industry where bandwidth is not the driving force behind cabling selection.

iSO and TIA also gave a nod to the controversial new OM5 multimode fiber. Designed for WideBand Wave Division Multiplexing, this fiber was developed ahead of an actual application. The driving force is to allow parallel processing over fewer strands of fiber for higher speeds. For instance 50 Gb/s over 4 lanes=200 Gb/s. However, there is talk in the industry that with the lower cost of singlemode electronic components, this may be a fiber without a home.

Broad market appeal is one criterion for developing and IEEE standard which the chip manufacturers use, and if the feeling is that singlemode components will serve the higher speeds and economies of scale will continue to drive down the cost of the optics, OM5 and some higher speed standards may prove to be more of a “proof it can be done” than commercial reality. Time will tell.

Another interesting development is the start of projects for 1 pair gigabit. While some of these standards are slated for automotive applications, once published they could provide some opportunities for sensors and other IoT applications. The most interesting (past and present)

  • 802.3bp 1000BASE-T1 (published) provides 1 Gbps Ethernet over at least 15 m and up to at least 40 m on one pair of balanced cabling
  • 802.3bw 100BASE-T1 (published) provides 100 Mbps Ethernet up to 15 m on one pair of balanced cabling (Automotive)
  • 802.3cg 10BASE-T1 (in progress, June 2019) provides 10 Mbps Ethernet up to 1 km on one pair of balanced cabling with power target - industrial
  • 802.3bu (2016) power over data lines on one pair of balanced cabling Class 0-9 ranging from .5 to 50W

For years, we have been providing power and signaling over single non-twisted pair copper for access control, security, doors, etc. These standards are going to provide more ways to connect IoT and other devices. Providing services over single pairs can decrease our use of copper which is a natural resource, but certainly not renewable. It will also allow sensors to be placed in more areas for places like data centers where there is a resistance to wireless by some owners.

Lastly, work is progressing on PoE++ also known as 4PPoE which provides much higher power over data cabling. There are two options. Type 3 supplies up to 60W of power and type 4 provides 99W of power. The change is in the NEC 2017 code which restricts bundle sizes for Type 4. It is yet to be determined how this will be evaluated by code officials in each state, but suffice it to say that when designing for these applications, 6A is the better choice and new decision factors will be required for Type 4 systems.

In short, there are many options to support various communications protocols and applications. Not every transmission requires (or is code compliant) over 4 pairs. For a quick rundown, visit our presentation at BICSI. We hope to see you there.



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