Multi-Gig Ethernet – a lower cost alternative to 10GBASE-T
First standardized in 1999, 1000BASE-T is the most successful and widely deployed networking technology in history. Using unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling to deliver Gigabit Ethernet, 1000BASE-T is known for its relative high performance at low cost. Unsurprisingly, 1000BASE-T networks have been deployed around the world, most commonly in enterprise campus networks.
However, shifts in technology have demanded speed and quality that goes beyond Gigabit performance. Ubiquitous wireless technology has changed the way workers connect to their office networks. New innovations, such as autonomous vehicle navigation, have placed new demands on networks for increased speed and the ability to seamlessly connect multiple sensor devices.
In 2006, a major leap in Ethernet technology created 10GBASE-T, boasting a 10x increase in link speed. Although it offers a significant performance advantage, 10GBASE-T does not come without challenges:
10GBASE-T is not compatible with the widely-deployed 100m Category 5 cable used for 1000BASE-T. Higher-performance cabling (Category 6) is needed to support 10GBASE-T over distances up to 100m. These cables are more expensive to produce than 1000BASE-T’s Category 5 cables. They can also be more fragile and difficult to work with, with bend radius and other limitations. Needless to say, the cost to replace an installed base of Category 5 cabling in order to upgrade to 10GBASE-T is a major consideration.