Extended Reach: the Fact File

Time to push network cabling beyond the limits

Like the roots of a growing tree, the enterprise network is branching out from the core and making its way into the farthest reaches of buildings and campuses as network managers try to stay one step ahead of the hyperconnected enterprise.

The internet of things (IoT) market is expected to have grown 18 percent in 2022, to 14.4 billion connected devices—and will include an estimated 27 billion devices by 2025.[i] The surge in connectivity is being fed by emerging and expanding edge-based technologies: advanced building automation and control, ubiquitous in-building wireless, campus-wide CCTV security and digital signage, smart manufacturing/distribution and more.

[i] State of IoT 2022; IOT Analytics, research report; May 18, 2022


The growth in edge-based connectivity presents a number of key challenges for enterprise network managers. Among them: how to extend the reach of their networks to deliver the required power and bandwidth beyond the traditional 100-meter distance limitation. Existing structured cabling architectures and standards can only go so far, and new extended-reach applications are continually emerging.

In this Enterprise Source fact file, we’ll dive deeper into the challenge of extended-reach power and data delivery. We’ll explore the various options and best practices for supporting connected devices at any distance from the telecom room (TR). Toward the end, we’ll show you how far a bit of out-of-the-box thinking can take you.

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Options for extending your network cabling reach

There are several ways to extend the reach of a structured cabling network beyond the 100 m channel barrier. Each option offers strengths and weaknesses.


Extending the traditional structured cabling network


The four approaches described above will allow you to extend the 100 m reach of Ethernet. But, as you can see, each one has as many (if not more) arguments against it as for it. Of course, the balance of pro vs con for any approach may vary based on the specifics of the project.

Before we dismiss all four approaches as unfeasible, it may be useful to consider whether any of them could be “refined” to the point where the pros significantly outweigh the cons. (Spoiler alert: one of them can). As you read through the following arguments, keep in mind that, despite the challenges each one presents, there are specific use cases where they can and should be used. Our objective here is to see if there is one approach that can be used effectively in a majority of scenarios without significant drawbacks.

In the case of option 1, adding additional TRs, the cost, space and intermediate power requirements are something of a deal breaker. In many environments, there simply is not enough available room to locate the added equipment. Beyond the lack of space, the disruption of the normal workflow must also be considered.

Using POE extenders (option 2) gets us a bit closer. But here, the issue isn’t the time and cost of the installation, but the effective management of the network. Difficulty in troubleshooting issues is especially problematic. As service-level agreements for network uptime become more demanding, option 2 becomes less appealing. Let’s keep looking.

Option 3, powered fiber, addresses many of the installation and management issues created by the first two options. The major drawback here is one of capacity, as powered fiber currently maxes out at 10G. Just as we’d never have imagined needing gigabit service to endpoint devices 10 years ago, a few years from now, a 10G ceiling may seem low. Still, powered fiber could take us a few years down the road. Good but not great.

Extending the copper infrastructure (option 4) is interesting. On the plus side, it is certainly the easiest and most cost-efficient solution to implement, provides a familiar platform and RJ45 connectivity, and offers good management. The drawback here is performance verification and lack of a standards-support roadmap. If we could mitigate these last two issues, we may just have a winnerwithout having to reinvent the wheel. Hmmm, interesting. But before leaping ahead to a potential solution, let’s take a step back and dive a bit deeper into the 100 m limitation from a slightly different perspective.

Utility grade infrastructure


To this point, we’ve discussed the challenges of extending the network’s reach to support powered and connected devices beyond the 100 m limit defined in the cabling standards. Yes, there are “workarounds” like PoE extenders and powered fiber, which can support extended distances, but at a cost that makes them less than optimal. Now, we’d like to propose a better solution—one that enables building owners and their network managers to more efficiently address the issue of extended reach and more.

First, a bit of context.
Led by the surging demand for seamlessly connected building automation and controls, and convergence of IT and OT applications, data communication is now viewed as the fourth utility, as critical to an organization’s operational future as electricity, water and gas.

The challenge lies in creating an integrated suite of connectivity solutions without adding layers of complexity and cost. Success starts with a superior infrastructure that’s flexible enough to scale and integrate tomorrow’s technologies while managing multiple systems that require advanced power distribution, more bandwidth, and seamless connectivity.

Extended-reach testing

To enable extended coverage and enhanced flexible network design, CommScope has conducted extensive testing to ensure reliable coverage beyond the traditional 100 m requirements. Combining carefully selected products from our leading SYSTIMAX® and RUCKUS® portfolios, the testing demonstrates flawless network functionality—offering customers the ability to leverage a closed PoE-based ecosystem that extends the length over which traditional switch/AP combinations will support Wi-Fi networks up to 180 m or 600 feet.

Cabling parameters that can affect reach and performance

Having outlined the issues of extended-reach performance, and proposing several existing solutions (and one new and innovative solution), we now turn our attention to understanding how to get the most out of your chosen strategy.
There are a number of characteristics, both electrical and physical, that impact a cable’s ability to adequately sustain signal performance over the length of the channel.

Electrical parameters include insertion loss, resistance unbalance, propagation delay and mismatched impedance. On the physical side, variables such as including the conductor’s diameter and cordage design also affect reach and performance, as does the category of cable used.


The changes in how organizations deploy, use and manage data are, in a word, transformative. Increasing use of augmented reality, IoT, and building automation/control are leading to increased workforce productivity, collaborations and safety, and buildings that are more efficient and sustainable. For network managers, however, designing networks that can support and sustain these new capabilities is a significant challenge.

While networks—including IT, OT, power and data—are converging to become more efficient, the number of connected devices and systems is exploding and moving to the network edge, closer to where data is being created and consumed. Supporting these changes means rethinking the role, design and capabilities of the structured cabling infrastructure, something CommScope anticipated years ago.

As an industry leader and innovator, we began working long ago with UL, Anixter and other network engineering specialists to develop an evolutionary unified infrastructure platform: UTG infrastructure. Now, customers can confidently extend the reach of their structured cabling networks to support tomorrow’s next-generation connected devices and systems.


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Innovative strategies to extend your network’s reach in a disruptive environment


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Extended Reach