The Forgotten Link
According to the current Cisco VNI forecast, global IP traffic is expected to nearly triple by 2020 from 2015. If you think about it, a 3X increase seems very reasonable. Your network is likely already supporting not only computers, but VoIP phones, tablets, smart phones, security cameras, access control systems, other building automation devices, and possibly even A/V (via HDBASE-T). Some devices require more bandwidth than others. Advancements in wireless technologies (802.11ac) as well as A/V (HDBASE-T with 4k video) are certainly driving up the demand for lots more bandwidth.
Berk-Tek has been talking for several years about the need for higher category cabling in the horizontal to support this additional bandwidth. Back in 2007, a single wireless access point (WAP), connected by a single 1Gbps cable, could support all the wireless devices within the wireless access point’s (WAP) range with no problem. Back then, wireless was essentially a nice-to-have. In 2017, wireless is now a need-to-have and our expectations are that it is always on, always fast, and always easy to connect to. Due to the rapidly increasing number of devices connecting and the bandwidth required for each device, wireless networks can now be quickly overloaded and frustratingly slow as a result. Today, not only are more advanced WAPs needed (802.11ac), but more WAPs are required to cover the same square footage than what was needed ten years ago.
As a consequence to all of this, Berk-Tek shipped about 4X more volume of Cat 6A (10Gbps) in 2016 versus 2015. The growth is real, and we know that most of this increase is going toward connecting new 802.11ac WAPs. This makes good business sense because in a few years, these devices will be able to transmit 6.9Gbps back to the TR or IDF. As a rule of thumb, Cat 6A is about twice the cost of Cat 6, but you get 10X the bandwidth (10Gbps vs 1Gbps). It would take seven 1Gbps cables to handle the maximum throughput of an 802.11ac WAP, and Cat 6A isn’t 7X the price of Cat 6.
Installing Cat 6A to connect new 802.11ac WAPs solves the bandwidth challenge in the horizontal and for the wireless network. However, what about the fiber backbone that needs to support all of it? Often times, the fiber backbone is out of sight, and out of mind – it is “the forgotten link”. And like with any chain, your network is only as strong as its weakest link.
Most backbones were installed with OM3 fiber. They supported lots of 1Gbps connections out into the enterprise with a 10Gbps backbone. Now, all those additional 10Gbps drops mentioned above are coming back to that same OM3 10Gbps backbone. The problem is there is no more buffer left in the backbone, which will cause future problems.
The next logical choice then is to move to a 40Gbps backbone there is a 4:1 ratio between horizontal and backbone. But when moving from a 10Gbps to a 40Gbps backbone, the reach of OM3 fiber decreases to only 100m. This is not nearly enough reach for most campus backbones.
How can you maintain the reach you need for maximum performance and support an ever-increasing amount of bandwidth over your network?
Berk-Tek can help. We have the industry’s only multimode fiber solution that can reach 500m at 40Gbps! And you can do it with a cost-effective multimode solution! You don’t have to move to a much more costly single-mode solution.