Why wireless systems are driving need for 40/100 Gbps fiber backbones

Developments in wireless technologies are pushing the horizontal cabling bandwidth in commercial and industrial buildings beyond 1 Gbps to the desk. The broad adoption of these technologies, along with bandwidth-hungry applications they support, will have a significant impact on demand for faster speeds elsewhere in the horizontal and backbone network. It is therefore essential that building infrastructure be designed to support bandwidth needs both now and in the future.

Current generation of IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi access points already enable wireless speeds up to 6.9 Gbps. To provide sufficient backhaul bandwidth for these devices, commercial implementations of the 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet standards over high-performance twisted-pair copper have interfaces designed to auto-negotiate up to 10 Gbps (10GBASE-T), if supported by the cabling infrastructure. Additionally, leading-edge in-building wireless (IBW) systems require fiber or copper connectivity to the access point based on 10GBASE-T technology.

These developments exact the greatest bandwidth impact on network backbones. Backbones in buildings have traditionally been designed to exceed the horizontal requirements by a factor of 10. As 1 Gbps gives way to 2.5, 5 and even 10 Gbps horizontal standards for many networks, backbone infrastructure should be specified to support speeds of at least 40 Gbps and ideally 100 Gbps.

Backbone support

Emerging standards of backbone speeds are already mapping a migration from 10 Gbps to 40 Gbps, and even to 100 Gbps. And migration plans now consider fiber optic technologies, which were originally developed for data center applications, ideal for building backbones. 

Specifically, the OM5 wideband multimode fiber (WBMMF) is becoming the preferred technology providing backhaul and fronthaul bandwidth to support not only 802.11ac Wi-Fi systems but also high-density 5G radio networks. 

The advantage of OM5 cabling is its ability to support low-cost shortwave wavelength division multiplexing (SWDM) applications, which enable 40 and 100 Gbps data rates using just two fibers rather than the eight fibers required for comparable parallel fiber-optic solutions. With OM5, customers can retain the use of familiar duplex LC connector circuit administration while providing the density, accessibility and flexibility to support multiple applications needed for the future. 

Given the slew of considerations arising as technologies advance, CommScope’s High Speed Migration platform offers a unified, end-to-end channel approach to an infrastructure’s ongoing development. The modular components (high-speed fiber, Ultra Low Loss LC and MPO connectors, and ultra high-density fiber panels), infrastructure intelligence and network planning tools – all work together to enable building infrastructure to adapt, evolve and scale for present and future needs. It alleviates the need to rip and replace. 

High speed migration considerations 

CommScope’s High Speed Migration platform provides a long-term strategy that addresses key considerations in installing and supporting 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps fiber backbone speeds and beyond. 

  • Staying agile and future-ready: With an extensive fiber portfolio – singlemode, OM4 and OM5 multimode – and the best available end-to-end channel insertion loss, the High Speed Migration platform supports major MPO fiber configurations to ensure optimal fiber configuration for each existing or emerging application. 

  • Keeping density manageable: High-density (HD), ultra high-density (UD) and enhanced high-density (EHD) fiber panels provide open access to individual fibers, facilitating easier and faster moves, adds and changes; accelerated mean time to repair; simplified installation and lower costs. 

  • Enabling higher speeds with ultra-low loss: An end-to-end channel approach featuring flexible ultra-low-loss (ULL) preterminated components – which support challenging technologies like PAM4 – enable higher speeds over longer distances while maintaining your existing structured cabling topologies for better operational agility and availability. 

  • Reducing costs throughout: The HD, UD and EHD fiber panels help reduce the risk associated with change while preterminated connectivity and plug-and-play installation help lower deployment time and cost. Organizations can take advantage of CommScope’s ULL fiber solutions and emerging multimode and singlemode duplex fiber applications to reduce fiber counts and increase capacity.

Still, these considerations for migration to 40/100 Gbps line rates and beyond entail a wide range of decisions regarding fiber type, modulation and transmission schemes, connector configurations and cost considerations. Amid the vast array of technical options and emerging solutions, these must be viewed within the context of your specific enterprise building environment.

To help determine the best options for any given environment, organizations can leverage CommScope’s technical expertise and broad perspective to keep building fiber backbones adaptable, capable and efficient to support continued growth in data rates in the horizontal that is driven by 802.11ac and in-building wireless solutions.

This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by CommScope.