With users now carrying anywhere from two to four mobile computing devices into the office, it should come as no surprise that wireless access points are being overwhelmed by all the network traffic being generated. To alleviate that congestion, Broadcom, Brocade, Delta Electronics, Delta Networks, Freescale Semiconductor, Pulse Electronics and Ruijie Networks today announced that they are throwing their collective weight behind an IEEE effort to define 2.5G and 5G Ethernet standards for access points that use unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling.
Ali Abaye, senior director of product marketing for Broadcom, says that while other types of approaches using Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antennas are being developed to address bandwidth issues, a specification that is compatible with UTP is also necessary because many organizations can’t afford to replace existing cabling systems. As more traffic continues to swamp 1G Ethernet networks, it’s clear that network latency will increase, especially as mobile computing devices configured with more robust antennas become attached to the network.
Abaye says the existence of 2.5 and 5G Ethernet options as defined in the proposed IEEE 802.3 10GBASE-T standard aren’t likely to slow down adoption of other wireless access point technologies that provide much higher bandwidth, but it will create an option for IT organizations that require an interim step to improve the end-user experience at a price they can afford.
At present, the IEEE has created a study group to examine the need for bandwidth ranging from between 1G and 10G Ethernet. Broadcom is leading a coalition of vendors known as the MGBASE-T Alliance that is advocating the adoption of 2.5 and 5G Ethernet specification that the alliance members have collaboratively developed.
With wireless networks becoming the primary network used in the enterprise, demand for network bandwidth on the backend of all those access points is rising precipitously. Unfortunately, the number of options available to IT organizations to deal with that problem is as limited as the amount of bandwidth their currently installed cables can actually support.