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NBASE-T Improves LAN Performance Without Cable Upgrades

Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Featured Article

NBASE-T Improves LAN Performance Without Cable Upgrades

February 27, 2017
By Paula Bernier
Executive Editor, TMC

For years we’ve been focused on how to deliver bigger bandwidth, and better experiences, over wide area networks. But what about bandwidth and performance within the LAN – and without a lot of extra investment?

That’s something NBASE-T, a new standards-based technology, is positioned to address.

“Previously, a bandwidth upgrade would have required organizations to engage in costly, disruptive construction in order rip and replace their cables,” explains Peter Jones, chairman of the NBASE-T Alliance, in a recent blog. “But today, NBASE-T technology is helping them get more speed from their existing networks with a simple equipment upgrade.”

That’s meaningful for organizations that, for cost or other reasons, want to optimize their networks and avoid new construction, he adds.

In a separate blog, Robert Novak, a 20-year veteran of system administration in the Silicon Valley, explains that NBASE-T can go faster than a gigabit but perhaps less than 10gbps. And it can do that over Cat-5e or Cat-6 cable, so businesses don’t have to upgrade to Cat6A. Such applications typically involve standard gigabit ports along with multi-rate ports, he says, and bandwidth aggregation.

That can allow for better experiences in both home and business environments. For example, he says, it could be useful in a home LAN with heavy streaming use and multiple mobile devices. NBASE-T could also be used by organizations that want to feed their full wireless capacity throughout a LAN to enable on-premises business applications, fileserver access, collaboration, and high efficiency videos, he adds.

With NBASE-T, he continues, users “can feed high performance workstations as well as higher performance wireless access points on a selective basis without running new cables or slumming it with 802.11n.” They may still need a couple of new runs of Cat6A or fiber for 10 Gigabit uplinks, he says, but that beats having to upgrade cabling in the entire building.

“Having spent the last two and a half years in technology sales, I’ve heard thousands of people say that speeds and feeds don’t matter or aren’t important,” Novak writes. “If you’re trying to get across to a line of business manager or a C-level who may not be as much a technophile as CTO/CIO types used to be, that may be true. But when you’re trying to solve a network physics problem, they do still matter.”

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