Today is the 17 year anniversary of my first video download. In September 1999, I was so excited to use the new robust 802.11a for an incredible 11 mbps download.

Do you remember wireless networking 1999? Back then, if you had challenges at 11 mbps to download a video what did you do? You went to look for the wire. You plugged your laptop into the Ethernet port. That’s what everyone did and it’s why we had Cat5 Ethernet ports being installed in virtually every cubicle across the world. For most of us, this approach of “going to the wire” continued through 802.11n until just recently. Up until a year ago, my kids were still plugging in their PS4s to Ethernet ports for a better gaming experience. But 802.11ac Wave 2 changes the things completely.

With 802.11ac Wave 2, wireless has now exceeded the capacity of the wired infrastructure. It did this by breaking the Cat5e barrier of 1 gigabit. So now, it’s the wire that becomes the bottleneck in a growing network.

A greater challenge is the bottleneck of expectations we are seeing in mobile data traffic. Deployed wireless speeds have already started eclipsing that of their wired counterparts. The idea of finding a cabled Ethernet port to get the best data rate has gone out with the 90s, because the data flow between iPhones and Access Points has improved with each new WiFi standard. The bottleneck is now forming behind that AP which is now demanding at as much as 3 to 4 Gbps. The issue is not with the Access switch, it’s with the cable in the wall.

Today, there are over 70 billion meters of Cat5e and Cat6 deployed in the world. That’s 10 meters for every man women and child on Earth. So what are the options to ensure that the wired infrastructure does not completely bottle-neck the wireless network? One option is re-deploying the wire, but sometimes it may not be possible. Assuming it is even possible, cost estimates have scaled to over $300k per building.

A more viable option is to upgrade your Cat5e cable without ever touching a wall. This is the approach that Cisco and the NBASE-T Alliance have taken to give us an immediate and cost effective solution. Thanks to their work, there is now a solution where you can get 2.5 and even 5 Gbps across existing Cat5e cable.

Cisco Catalyst Multigigabit Technology is a game-changing innovation to enable data rates through existing Cat5e and Cat 6 cables beyond 1Gbps to 2.5 and even 5 Gbps up to 100 meters. By using a Cisco Multigigabit capable switch like the Catalyst 3850 and the Cisco Aironet 3800 Access Point, you can sustain up to 5X data speeds without replacing cabling infrastructure. Cisco Catalyst Multigigabit Technology is compliant with 1000BASE-T and 10GBASE-T IEEE standards and supports Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) standards up to 60 watts.

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Bart Peluso

Marketing Manager

Enterprise Networking and Mobility