Getting Past the 100-meter Gorilla Holding Your Network Hostage
Anyone involved with enterprise networks knows that 5G is just the tip of the sword, an enabler for far more disruptive changes. In its wake are Industry 4.0, automation on a massive scale, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and layer upon layer of machine learning.
The challenge for network managers and designers isn’t just deploying the sheer number of connected devices, an estimated 14.5 billion[i] as of latest count. It’s also satisfying their diverse operational requirements—multi-gigabit bandwidth, higher power demands and single-digit latency performance.
At the same time, the network’s footprint is quickly expanding as operations are pushed further out, closer to suppliers, distributors and customers. The number of connected devices needed at the edge—where data is increasingly being processed, created and consumed—is growing exponentially. Supporting them means rethinking what has become a basic tenant of network design: the 100-meter limit on structured cabling links.
For a deeper technical dive into the 100-meter distance barrier, and some of the conventional approaches to overcoming it, check out the Extended Reach Fact File.
The bottom line is that existing solutions (including PoE extenders, intermediate TRs, powered fiber and extending twisted pair links) are mainly applicable a case-by-case basis. For a reliable strategy that can efficiently extend the reach of the structured cabling network in most scenarios, we must look beyond the conventional.
[i] Global IOT Enterprise Spending; IOT Analytics, report; March 2022
Innovative strategies to extend your network’s reach
Instead of continuing to modify existing, distance-limited solutions, CommScope has developed two new data/power infrastructure platforms, each takes a decidedly different (and fresh) new approach to extending the reach of the enterprise network.
The first approach is built on the understanding that the 100-meter limitation exists to protect networks from using channel components that are neither designed nor reliably vetted to support applications beyond 100m. This was the intent of the 802.3ab standard. It was the right decision, made for all the right reasons.
Yet, what if there were a platform whose components were designed to successfully and reliably support extended-reach applications, and whose performance for each application was tested and verified by a trusted independent third-party? This is what CommScope has developed with our Utility-Grade (UTG) INFRASTRUCTURE platform.
Whereas the UTG INFRASTRUCTURE provides application support over extended distances by virtue of its higher quality components, yet another approach leverages some nifty design innovations enabled by Class 4 “safe power” and a highly efficient distributed star topology.
Details of this latest platform are still under wraps until it is announced later in 2023. But, in general, in addition to dramatically reducing the amount and complexity of cabling needed, the system supports a wide variety of network types, devices and environments while providing reliable remote power and un-paralleled bandwidth at the edge of the building network.
Innovative and reliable solutions for a disruptive environment
Future demands bring with them a new set of challenges, not the least of which involves designing a network infrastructure that’s capable and flexible enough to meet the rising need for bandwidth, power and manageability across the enterprise. With more—and more-demanding—edge-based devices being deployed across the enterprise, conventional solutions like PoE extenders, additional TRs and powered fiber will have a role to play. But their limited use cases do not provide the kind of broad strategy that network managers and designers need to keep up with demand.
Long term, enterprise networks need one or more “go-to” solutions for quickly and efficiently deploying hundreds of connected devices and systems across the facility. For more than 40 years, CommScope has been helping enterprise customers push beyond the limitations of their conventional infrastructure solutions. Today, that means developing technologies and architectures that enable network teams to extend the reach and value of their structured cabling network.