As life becomes increasingly digital, the need for mobility keeps growing. As a result, businesses need more Wi-Fi, which in turn drives demand for greater network density and performance from the wired networks that support Wi-Fi access points (APs).

One way to meet this demand is to upgrade from 1 Gigabit Ethernet to the next rung on the ladder, 10 Gig-E. That upgrade, however, requires replacing existing twisted-pair cabling with either new copper cabling rated for 10GBASE-T or optical fiber. Few organizations want to shoulder the capital costs and workplace disruption associated with such a major cabling renovation.

Plus, many businesses don’t need to jump all the way to 10 gigabits per second. They just need to relieve the pressure on their existing 1Gbps infrastructure in the short term so users don’t become frustrated by network bottlenecks.

Enter NBASE-T, a specification that enables IT departments to upgrade from 1Gbps to 2.5Gbps or even 5Gbps above their existing CAT 5e or CAT 6 copper cabling over distances of 100 meters or less. This allows them to gain much-needed network capacity without having to foot the bill for a major cabling project.

The Wi-Fi Connection

Across industries, organizations are seeing dramatic increases in Wi-Fi usage. Retailers, for example, are deploying Wi-Fi in their stores to help their salespeople and to enhance the shopping experience. (For instance, when customers connect to in-store Wi-Fi, some retailers use beacon technology to track their movements and send them targeted promotions.)

The greater use of wireless, however, strains the local segments of the wired network that connect APs to the rest of the infrastructure, including guest Internet connectivity. The result is a poor end-user experience that frustrates customers and sales staff alike. NBASE-T solves this problem without requiring retailers to install new cabling in their stores.

The same scenario is playing out elsewhere. Hospitals are dramatically expanding their use of Wi-Fi to deliver better clinical care more efficiently, and warehouses are using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to streamline inventory management.

The strain that Wi-Fi places on the wired network will only intensify as businesses move to emerging 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, which offers greater performance and density. NBASE-T offers the most cost-effective and least disruptive means of relieving the resulting bottleneck between high-traffic APs and the wired network switching fabric.

How Close Is Your Future?

It’s not just Wi-Fi that’s clogging network pipes. Big Data is also generating massive bursts of traffic. So are video and the Internet of Things, as well as increased use of traditional business applications.

Almost every business can benefit from a network that provides better performance and supports more users, so it’s wise to prepare for a move to NBASE-T today.

Check out CDW’s white paper, The Gigabit Upgrade, to see how NBASE-T technology lets organizations meet rapidly growing network bandwidth demands without migrating to fiber.