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ADTRAN Extends Ethernet Again


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October 22, 2012

ADTRAN Extends Ethernet Again

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Network and communications gear provider ADTRAN (News - Alert) continues to push Ethernet over copper into new capabilities. Not long ago, the company tweaked up Gigabit Ethernet to enable 100 Mbps over standard copper for up to 300 feet via its UBE technology. In an announcement coinciding with ITEXPO Austin, the company announced its ActivReach Ethernet technology to deliver similar speeds on anything from CAT3 to legacy voice-grade wire at distances up to 1,200 feet -- with Power over Ethernet rolled in to boot.

While UBE was positioned at extending service provider offerings over copper, ActivReach Ethernet is a technology designed to enhance and extend LAN coverage utilizing existing Ethernet and voice-grade cabling.   Older office buildings, schools, retail stores, hotels, hospitals and other facilities rely on CAT3 or voice-grade cabling for their legacy phone systems -- not the sort of thing to support higher speed Ethernet. Upgrading to VoIP and higher-speed services would put those businesses into having to pull new cable, a capital expense of hundreds of dollars per drop that adds up to a lot of money very quickly.

ActivReach and ADTRAN's NetVanta 1535P Gigabit Ethernet switch enables Ethernet to be rolled out onto existing, dare we say "formerly sub-par," voice-grade wires. The 1535P has 24 copper ports and four fiber ports for uplinking and stacking. Each copper port can be configured for 10/100 speeds in ActivReach mode at distances of up to 365 meters (1,200 feet) or standard 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet at distances up to 100 meters (328 feet). As new cable plant is installed, ActivReach ports can be simply configured to do stock GigE over copper.

Another nifty trick of the NetVanta 1535P is that it can supply Power over Ethernet, so there are any number of combinations of things you can do to extend IP voice and data services utilizing existing wiring by using a chain of 1535Pss and ActivReach.

The hospitality industry is being featured in ADTRAN promotions of ActivReach and it's easy to see why. Hotels have a lot of legacy voice-grade copy within and between floors and customer demands for higher speed wired and wireless Ethernet.

“Until recently, we were not able to provide all of the data services that our guests have come to expect from the hotel industry," said Ella Dilling, owner of the Best Western Rivertree Inn in Clarkston, Washington and a pre-announcement customer. "We needed to provide a consistent guest experience, regardless of which room they were in, and we were unable to do that before. ADTRAN’s ActivReach technology has enabled us to offer high-speed data access across the entire property, while lowering our overall operating expenses for the hotel because we were able to avoid the costly installation of new cable.

Given ADTRAN's introduction of UBE and ActivReach, I'm curious to see what other tricks the company has up its sleeve for getting more mileage out of Ethernet. The data center industry, lead by Facebook (News - Alert) and others, is clamoring for a reinvention of the server world. It would be fun to see ADTRAN take a shot at that market.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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