Do I need multi-gigabit now?

We’ve recently seen a lot of interest around multi-gigabit connectivity. In fact, the Dell’Oro Group, a major analyst firm focused on networking, is actively tracking the nascent multi-gigabit market and forecasts rapid growth over the next few years. Indeed, the introduction of 802.11ax APs in 2018-19 is likely to be a major factor in the acceleration of multi-gigabit connectivity adoption.

multi-gigabit cables and switches

Key considerations for multi-gigabit connectivity

However, it is important to emphasize that organizations should carefully determine their multi-gigabit connectivity requirements before purchasing access points and switches. For example, organizations should decide if there is an immediate demand for high wireless throughput and gauge when support for high wireless throughput will be a necessity. Organizations should also determine if there is or will be a high density of wireless users or devices per access point (AP) – and decide when to upgrade to 802.11ac or 802.11ax capable clients. Organizations will also need to determine when multi-gigabit ports are required and if they are needed for all APs or just certain access points in high-density locations.

In addition, organizations should be aware of the hundred-meter limit, as multiple APs dispersed over a large area will end up being connected to multiple switches. This should be weighed against the extra cost for upgraded APs and multi-gigabit access switches. Moreover, organizations with multi-gigabit switches will need to consider a higher capacity upstream to the aggregation and core switches. Depending on the existing cabling, organizations may also have to re-cable their buildings to support higher speeds.

Other considerations to keep in mind are the timing of Wi-Fi upgrades, how rapidly wireless usage is expected to grow and how long will infrastructure will be retained. For example, the life of most enterprise switches is two to three times that of a wireless network. So, organizations will need their switches to last through one or perhaps even two more Wi-Fi upgrades. Put simply, organizations will have to find the right balance between network requirements, cost and the life expectancy of their infrastructure.

Rick Freedman
Rick Freedman

Director, ICX Product Marketing

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