Cheaper, faster wired Ethernet is coming to a port near you

Ethernet port

We've been stuck with Gigabit Ethernet – i.e. wired connections with a speed of up to 1Gbps – for a long time now, but a new standard has just been approved which will up speeds by a large amount.

While there are faster alternatives out there already, such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), stumbling blocks including power requirements and the cost of replacing existing cabling – as it requires Cat 6a cables – have proved major barriers to adoption for many organizations.

But the good news is that the new IEEE P802.3bz standard which the NBASE-T Alliance has just announced it has got ratified can work over existing Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables, boosting speeds to up to 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps respectively, with no hugely expensive cable overhauls needed.

In other words, you'll just have to buy the hardware which supports 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T, and plug these devices into your existing infrastructure to get a major speed boost. And products supporting 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet already started shipping earlier this year.

Rapid proliferation

According to a forecast from the Dell'Oro Group, when it comes to networking devices shipped, there's set to be a doubling of the amount of ports supporting 2.5/5GbE every year, over the next three years.

Alan Weckel, vice president of Ethernet switch market research at Dell'Oro Group, further noted: "Last quarter, NBASE-T switch and access point ports surged significantly as enterprises began to upgrade their campus networks to speeds beyond 1G. There will be a sizable upgrade cycle around NBASE-T technology with robust growth expected over the next several years. As a result, we expect 2017 NBASE-T port shipments to exceed three million ports."

While at this point, the technology is mostly aimed at businesses, it probably won't be too long before we see high-end home routers bristling with these faster ports, with enthusiast users driving adoption.

Meanwhile, companies will certainly make good use of 2.5/5GbE given that there are apparently 70 billion metres of Cat5e and Cat6 cabling out there, all of which can be given a new lease of life.

Peter Jones, chairman, NBASE-T Alliance, said of IEEE P802.3bz being ratified: "From proposal to approval, the standards process took less than two years – a remarkably fast progression. Seeing the standard approved so quickly has been an enormously satisfying experience, and shows what can be achieved when we work together to develop a compelling solution that offers clear value to the industry."

Via: Ars Technica

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).