High speed Internet is a requirement in many industrial segments and commercial enterprises for obvious reasons, and Gigabit Ethernet plus fiber optics have helped achieve the same. However, in many industrial units and offices, there are legacy networks comprising UTP Cat5 and Cat6 cables. Switching to fiber optics entirely certainly has a lot of advantages, but involves a significant cost factor. Nowadays, technologies have been developed considering the cost factor vs. the actual requirement of speed at various times and levels. So, Multi-Gigabit Ethernet is a data connectivity link which achieves speeds of more than 1G on the existing copper cables in your network. This post discusses the significance and uses of multi-gigabit Ethernet switches, ports, and other devices.
Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Explained at Length
This technology enables you to achieve speeds without the need for a particular type of cable such as fiber optic. However, depending upon the type of UTP cable such as Cat5e, Cat6, and so on, the multi-Gig Ethernet speed may vary. For instance, on a Cat6 cable, it may achieve even 10G; whereas, on a Cat5e, the speed may go up to 5G. This is basically a WLAN technology which optimally utilizes the bandwidth available at each access point of the network. Today, multi-Gigabit Ethernet devices are designed in adherence to IEEE 802.3 standards last updated about 4 years ago, which has pointers defined for 2.5- and 5-Gigabit Ethernet connections over Cat5, Cat6, and other higher Ethernet cables. This was essential to utilize the potential of other advanced connected devices such as computers, storage devices, wireless access points, and so on. Also, while high speed connectivity may be achieved, maintaining it after connecting to a switch is a challenge. This is because a standard switch allows up to only 1G speed. So, there was a need for multi-gigabit Ethernet switch which enable a speed that matches with the multi-Gig Ethernet port over the existing Cat5e or Cat6 cable.
What is Multi-gig Switch?
Multi gigabit switches have multi-gig ports with varied speed and capacities from 1G to 10G. These extremely flexible switches are suitable for high speeds up to 5G or more as well as the regular 100 Mbps speed over legacy networks. They are primarily meant for networks looking to cross 1G and enhance link aggregation. Hence, based on the configuration you need they can be used for any type of network and are compatible with several network devices. Most of these switches have multigig Ethernet ports and RJ45 connector ports while some or fiber as well as PoE or PoE+. They may be either managed or unmanaged.
- Unmanaged multigig switches are easy to use because of the simple plug-n-play feature. They can be simply placed on a table or mounted on a rack. They have all the layer 2 features such as Quality of Service (QoS), VLAN support, priority queuing with bandwidth allocation, port mirroring, and more.
- Managed multi gigabit switches are intelligent and smart and function on an autopilot mode. They have advanced QoS features, layer 3 routing for IPv4 and IPv6, advanced and MAC-based VLAN, advanced security management, and more.
What Are Multi-Gig Ethernet Ports?
Multi-gig or Ethernet ports facilitate speeds ranging from 100Mbps to 5G, and beyond, while allowing network devices to function at full capacity. These extremely flexible switches are suitable for high speeds up to 5G or more as well as the regular 100 Mbps speed over legacy networks. These ports have backward compatibility with the standard 100 Mbps devices. Additionally, they also support the ones beyond 2.5G. Multi-gig as a whole reduces both cost and effort of adding to the number of switches, ports, and cables in the existing network. In any case, even if you add these devices, achieving a speed of more than 2.5G may still be challenging. Instead, it is wise to use a switch which allows 5G speed and beyond. It will also help the connected IoT devices to optimally utilize multi-gig. This makes your network scalable as you can increase the speed as and how the number of connected devices increase.
Benefits of Multi-Gigabit Ethernet
With a huge demand for high-speed internet, smart handheld gadgets, IoT devices, and more, speed and connectivity along with a large bandwidth and security are important for any network and its devices. There are many benefits of switching to Multi gigabit Ethernet technology as a whole. Here are some of them.
- While the devices may need to be upgraded, you can use much of the existing infrastructure and hence need not make too many changes on a physical level.
- Multi-gig switches also have PoE ports and this technology supports PoE which is useful when expanding geographical areas of data transmission. Some devices such as cameras may require powering through PoE, especially if they do not have access to external power source in an area.
- You can optimally use and connect multiple WLAN access points and IoT devices with the help of multigig technology.
- While you may need to upgrade the infrastructure, with multigig you can do it gradually, with one switch at a time. This makes it affordable.
Points to Consider Before Upgrading to Multigig Ethernet
While multigig switching can prove to be beneficial to your network in terms of speed, efficiency, security, and so on, here are some points to consider in case you plan to upgrade to multigig Ethernet network from Fast Ethernet or a legacy network.
- Check your application environment and the area where the device installation and wiring would be done. Ensure it is well ventilated, especially if you have devices that generate heat. This is because increasing the bandwidth may also increase power consumption.
- The hardware you choose, such as network storage devices, must be compatible with these switches and the same applies for cabling too. These devices must have the required technical support, else the purpose of increased bandwidth and speed would not be fulfilled as the speed would fall below 1G in case of incompatibility.
- For optimal utilization of the multigig Ethernet technology and gaining maximum throughput, ensure you use good quality cables that are not worn out. Opt for Cat6 and above versions of Ethernet cables or fiber optic ones.
- Ensure the switches are future proof, which means they offer backward compatibility with older versions even up to 100Mbps as well. So you may have a range of switches from 100Mbps to 10G in the network that are compatible with each other.
If you are looking for a high-speed connectivity but with a scalable and affordable network, then multi-Gigabit Ethernet is the right choice. Ensure you source these devices from a trusted manufacturer like VERSITRON. The company has been delivering copper to fiber connectivity products of various types and configurations for data, voice, and video applications for several years now. You can contact the experts to discuss your network upgrade requirements.