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Universal Truths About Networks: Operating at Higher Speeds

Stéphane Bourgeois

Two universal truths regarding local area networks (LANs): they never stop transforming and they continue to stretch across the enterprise. In earlier posts, we began explaining all three universal truths about networks to help readers understand the intricacy and significance to enterprises.

In this blog post, we address the third and final universal truth: Networks never stop operating at higher speeds.


The Progression of Increasing Network Speed

The point of a LAN is to connect multiple systems together to bi-directionally exchange and access information. As the number and types of systems and devices being connected grows and evolves, so must the network—including network speed.


The first experimental Ethernet ran at 3 Mpbs in the 1970s. In the 1980s, a new specification was developed by IEEE enabling Ethernet to run over unshielded twisted-pair cabling—speeds of 10 Mpbs and 100 Mpbs were born. UTP cables were outfitted with RJ45 connectors. One twisted pair was used for transmitting data and the other for receiving data.


10M and 100M Ethernet speeds were very fast for the time, often providing more speed than necessary. As more devices connected, new applications were introduced and more data was being transferred, speeds that once seemed adequate were no longer sufficient. As a result, Gigabit Ethernet was developed, increasing speeds by a factor of 10, running at 1000 Mpbs (i.e., 1G).


The Next Steps in Higher Speeds

Increases in network speed are occurring in connections that service a wider area supporting multiple users at a time through wireless vs connections serving a single work area. From 802.11b/802.11g to 802.11n/802.11ac Waves 1 and 2, average wireless network speeds continue to increase—and are about to break the gigabit barrier. It’s important to note that faster wireless speeds will require faster wired links from the telecommunications room to the wireless access point (WAP)—meaning links faster than 1G must be deployed (e.g., 2.5G, 5G and even 10G).


Backbone bandwidth and speed must increase to support the increase in desktop, WAP and device connections. This can occur by either aggregating 10G links on multimode fiber (for shorter links in buildings) or singlemode fiber (for longer links in campuses), or moving to 25G or 40G speeds.


Data Centers Need More Speed

To support evolving business and consumer demand, data center network speeds are increasing at a faster pace than enterprise LAN speeds. Enterprise data centers are currently upgrading switch-to-server connections in the access layer from 1G to 10G and switch-to-switch connections in the aggregation layer from 10G to 25G or 40G. Hyperscale data centers are gearing up for even higher speeds—from 40G to 100G, and looking into 200G and 400G.


Belden offers complete solutions to support the mission-critical needs of local area networks and their emerging application demands. Learn more about increasing network speed across the enterprise to support people, devices and systems, view our informative LAN resources.