In the past month, we’ve blogged about two universal truths regarding local area networks (LANs): they never stop transforming themselves and they continue to stretch across the enterprise. In those two posts, we began the task of explaining all three universal truths about networks to help us understand their intricacy and significance to enterprises.

As a refresher, here are the three universal truths:

  1. Networks never stop transforming themselves
  2. Networks never stop stretching across the enterprise
  3. Networks never stop operating at higher speeds

At last, we’re talking about the third and final universal truth: Networks never stop operating at higher speeds.

New call-to-actionThe Progression of Increasing Network Speed

The point of a LAN is to connect more than two systems together so they can exchange and access information in both directions. As the number and types of systems and devices being connected grows and changes, so must the network itself. This includes network speed.

The first experimental Ethernet ran at 3 Mbps in the 1970s. In the 1980s, a new specification was developed by IEEE to allow Ethernet to run over unshielded twisted-pair cabling; speeds of 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps were born. UTP cables were outfitted with RJ45 connectors. One of the twisted pairs was used for transmitting data while the other received data. These connections service individual work areas with one user each.

10M and 100M Ethernet speeds were very fast at the time, often providing more speed than necessary. But as more devices connect, new applications are used and more data is transferred on the network, the speeds that once seemed adequate don’t serve their purpose anymore. As a result, Gigabit Ethernet was developed, which increased speeds by a factor of 10, running at 1000 Mbps (or 1G).

The Next Steps in Higher Speeds

Today’s increases in network speed are occurring in connections that service a wider area supporting multiple users at a time through wireless – instead of connections that serve one work area each. From 802.11b and 802.11g to 802.11n to 802.11ac Wave 1 and now Wave 2, average wireless network speeds are no doubt getting faster – and about to break the gigabit barrier. It’s also important to note that faster wireless speeds will also require faster wired links from the telecommunications room to the wireless access point (WAP); therefore, links faster than 1G must be deployed, such as 2.5G, 5G and even 10G.

Tunnel Blur

Backbone bandwidth and speeds 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, Too

What about data center speeds? To support the ever increasing demand of businesses and consumers, 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 than that – from 40G to 100G, and looking into 200G and 400G

Better Buckle Up!

Our network speeds can only get faster. In 2015, the Ethernet Alliance created an Ethernet Roadmap that explains Ethernet speeds through 2020, looking at up to terabit speeds. If you want to see what the future holds, watch their short video, download their white paper and view their illustrated map. The Ethernet Alliance predicts that six new speeds could be introduced in the next five years.

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

What did you think of our Universal Truths series of blog posts? Be sure to let us know in the comments section!