Smart Building

Copper Cable in a Wireless World

Stéphane Bourgeois

Multi-Gigabit Wireless Requires High-Performance Copper Cable

It may seem counterintuitive, but the proliferation of wireless in our industry hasn’t led to the disappearance of wire.

We may be a wireless world, but we still need wire. We may need less wire than in the past, but devices requiring wireless networks also call for high-performance, quality wired infrastructure with cable that can handle increasing traffic and constantly changing technology and standards.


Think about the high-tech systems found in commercial buildings today, such as digital signage, interactive video walls featuring 4K content, high-definition professional projection systems or cloud solutions – none would be possible without a robust wired infrastructure that can ensure uptime with no delay or interference.


Impact on LAN

According to the Dell’Oro Group, wireless LAN Ethernet port shipment will gain parity with wired LAN Ethernet by the end of this year. With upcoming higher-throughput access points being introduced, the shift to wireless LAN will increase at a faster pace and stimulate the enterprise LAN market unlike anything we’ve seen in the past five years.


Next-generation Wi-Fi gear is >802.11ac Wave 2, which has made substantial enhancements to Wave 1 devices: using 160 MHz channels for greater performance and speed, and advanced features like multiple-user MIMO (allowing multiple users to access the same channel simultaneously for better wireless experiences). Wave 2 gear will break the gigabit barrier and support multi-gigabit Wi-Fi transmission.


Cable Migration

As a result of this exciting transformation, cable is migrating from behind the wall (Ethernet 100M/1G to the workstation and terminated into a wall plate) to above the ceiling (Ethernet 1G to 2.5G/5G and ultimately 10G), where it is terminated to an access point (AP). Because 802.11ac necessitates a greater number of APs to enable multi-gigabit to a large number of users, more cabling will be deployed in the ceiling.


To better support the deployment of these new APs, higher-speed Ethernet links will need to be installed between them and telecom room switches. IEEE is currently drafting two new standards to address this matter: 802.3bz for 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T.


As these new APs are able to deliver multi-gigabit signals, more power will be required. IEEE is also currently working on its third-generation Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) standard: 802.3bt 4PPoE  (4-pair Power-over-Ethernet). The combination of 2.5G/5GBASE-T and 4PPoE will support this expected massive deployment of 802.11ac Wave 2 access points.


Be Prepared

Wi-Fi symbol with people sitting around it (illustration)To ensure that your network is capable of handling what’s to come, you’ll need a high-performance, Category 6A cabling system. Category 6A cable is best suited to support 802.11ac Wave 2, 802.3bz 2.5G/5GBASE-T and 802.3bt 4PPoE. Not only can it provide bandwidth to support 802.11ac Wave 2 devices, but it is also designed to reduce alien crosstalk and signal interference, ensuring excellent device performance.