The Sign of the Times: A Wireless Explosion

NewsIndustry NewsThe Sign of the Times: A Wireless Explosion
  • Industry News
  • 04.29.2020

With the entire world currently under “stay at home” orders, everyone who is classified with “non-essential” jobs are now working from their homes or not working at all. In doing so, everyone is realizing the importance of the “4th Utility” — the Internet. Just like flipping on a light switch or turning a faucet on for water, network connectivity is an expected deliverable. 

Can you imagine if this pandemic occurred 20 years ago when high-speed Ethernet communication was not established? The paradox of online communication has just been ratcheted up. Internet — both wired and wireless networks — are coming under immense pressure to deliver reliable connectivity as schools and businesses have shifted their day-to-day operations out of the workplace and into homes. Think of the media rich and mission critical applications, which have become part of everyone’s daily routine – video conferencing, streaming videos, online learning, news reports, telemedicine, shopping online, to name a few.

Infrastructure is an essential element in all our lives as it is everyone’s link to the world. While the nation may be on the cusp of slowly re-opening, the cable contractors and suppliers are answering the demand for the installation of more network connections, for both commercial and private use. 

Challenges and Solutions for Wi-Fi

Technology evolution waits for no one. As we are sitting on the edge of 5G, which will double the speed of 4G, and the next generation of Wi-Fi standards, wireless devices have become critical lifelines. Once students go back to school and businesses reopen, the public will be demanding more connections in every space and in every environment. With the evolution of higher speeds and bandwidths, network system designers are facing a big challenge to deliver this technology over the existing Category 5e/6/6A copper infrastructure.

Here are some trends and challenges in wireless technology identified by the Dell’Oro Group Ethernet Switch study:

  • Wi-Fi has exceeded the capacity and data rates of wired networks.
  • There is an estimated 6x growth in mobile data traffic (2017-2022).
  • More than 5.6 billion 100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T switch ports have shipped in the last 20 years with another 2.4 billion ports expected by 2022

The Ethernet Alliance, which consists of more than 45 manufacturers and suppliers has banded together to enable widespread deployment, evolve specifications and facilitate interoperability for 2.5G/5G BASE-T and beyond. WiFi-6 (IEEE 802.11 ax) will require upwards of 10 Gb/s speeds creating a Gigabit bottleneck in the infrastructure from the switch to the device.

*Image Source: Cisco

While the switch manufacturers are developing active equipment to provide both power (Power over Ethernet) and multi-gigabit technology over all four pairs at higher speeds, contractors are faced with providing connectivity and pathways out to these devices. Providing connectivity to many locations past the standards’ based 100-meter rule can be a daunting design nightmare because many wireless devices are located in remote areas -- across campuses, parking lots, warehouses, airports and sports arenas. 

So how are we seeing installers deliver the most cost effective Multigigabit WiFi? The answer is simple. It’s called “lengthonomics” – extending the cable distances without having to install additional telecom rooms or intermediate enclosures, which are cost-prohibitive and not physically feasible. The patented GameChanger Cable™ is the solution as it can more than double the distance of standard category cables (shielded, unshielded or outside plant) up to 260 meters (850 feet) for a fraction of the cost without requiring additional connectivity. The GameChanger cable supports all four types of PoE – from Type 1 which provides 15W from the powered source equipment (PSE) over two pairs all the way up to Type 4, which provides 90W from PSE through all four pairs.

How is this achieved? The GameChanger outperforms typical category cables due to increased gauge size (22 AWG), carefully designed twisting and incorporating specialty materials optimized for long-distance Ethernet applications from the switch to the device. So even when the switch is upgraded, the GameChanger meets evolving technologies.

With increasing multi-gigabit data rates, the newest wireless industry standards recognize that two cables should be pulled to each WAP to provide enough data and power (PoE). By installing two GameChanger cables, not only do they support higher bandwidths and further distances but also address future densities and additional applications. Having the cable in place in the ceiling makes future connections fast and easy. And, GameChanger pulls and terminates just like any other category cable. 

Planning is the most important aspect of the infrastructure for every real estate. Too often, many criteria for future-proofing the network is minimized due to lack of foresight. The three essential pillars of planning the infrastructure includes: 1) install as much conduit for future provisioning to be able to add robust connectivity 2) factor in as much cabling as needed for current and future applications, and 3) always make sure there is enough power in the telecom room for future active equipment changes to be able to push the signal as far as possible to the devices. Wireless pathways are underestimated in the design phase but GameChanger makes it easy to add cable runs while satisfying both data and power requirements now and in the future.

Carol Oliver is the Principal, ICT Consultant at CEO Communications and President-Elect of BICSI (2020-2021). With over 25 years experience in the ICT Industry, Carol has been a business owner (Everett Communications 1996-2006) as well as working in marketing, training and technical sales support for leading manufacturers of structured cabling solutions. She is a published author and prides herself in getting the highest visibility in the publications and in other media vehicles. Many know Carol for her involvement in the ICT community and giving back. She has served on several committees, including for BICSI and ASIS, and on the BICSI Board of Directors, and has even been one of the founding members of Women in BICSI, including being involved in a mentorship program. It is her commitment to this industry that makes her relevant and keeps her current with the latest trends in technology.
Carol Oliver
Contributor & Principal, CEO Communications


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