Category 5e cabling to become obsolete for offices

Matias Peluffo, Vice President for Intelligent Buildings, Asia Pacific, CommScope

Additionally, wireless LAN speeds are rapidly increasing due to media-rich user expectations and the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets. Wireless LAN infrastructures are getting upgraded at a rapid pace to IEEE 802.11ac, offering peak speeds of up to 7 Gb/s and with backhaul requirements exceeding the 1 Gb/s supported by Class D and Class E cabling. As a result, new IEEE specifications are being developed for 2.5BASE-T, targeted at installed Class D cabling and 5GBASE-T targeted at installed Class E cabling.

However, the transmission requirements of 2.5 and 5GBASE-T exceed the Class D and Class E specifications. While it is expected that a sizeable percentage of the installed base will be able to support the faster speeds, the definition of supported configurations and use cases is currently in development. In some cases, the costly and time consuming alien crosstalk qualification of Class D and Class E installed cabling may be required to verify support of 2.5 and 5GBASE-T, and some mitigation steps may be required.

The 2.5 and 5G specifications in development are based on 10GBASE-T technology, using scaled down 10GBASE-T capabilities. As a result, it is also expected that the rapid market growth of 2.5 and 5GBASE-T will result in downward price pressure and efficiency improvements for 10GBASE-T technology. Some industry analysts predict that these developments will accelerate the growth of 10GBASE-T deployments in office applications, supporting even higher speeds for WAPs and enabling other bandwidth intensive applications.

More than 60 cabling experts across 19 countries with long track records of standards participation attended the working group meeting in Milan, and arrived at the decision to raise the minimum horizontal requirement in offices to Class E. This historic milestone effectively marks the obsolescence of Class D a full 20 years after its initial introduction in the international standard, and positions Class EA as the optimal horizontal medium for new office installations.

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