Newer, Faster Ethernet Standards Are Here

Your network Ethernet cables are about to get a whole lot faster — and you won’t even have to rewire a thing.

The NBASE-T Alliance has recently approved the new IEEE P802.3bz standard, which will allow existing Cat5e cables and Cat6 cables to achieve faster transfer speeds up to 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps, respectively. This is a huge leap over the standard maximum 1Gbps speeds we’ve had to put up with for quite some time now.

Of course, there are non-standard ways to reach up to 10Gbps, but these methods only work with Cat6a cables, which often involve an extensive (and expensive) overhaul of any existing systems that rely on older cables. The current 10 Gig Ethernet hacks are also known to suck up a formidable amount of power usage.

The new standard, however, only requires upgrading the hardware to support 2.5GBASE-T and/or 5GBASE-T, which is already available on newer products and is expected to become even more widely implemented on network devices over the next three years. In the simplest terms possible, this means your existing infrastructure of Cat5e network cables or Cat6 cables can be used to deliver the faster speeds.

Right now, the improvements are for the most part only aimed at industry applications. This is good news in the health care sector, for instance, where nurses currently spend 7% of their time documenting vital signs. Faster speed signals could help save time — and lives.

The bad news, of course, is that home consumers will still have to wait a little longer to see the improved standards have any real effect at home. But if the speed of the approval process so far is any indication, the wait won’t last for too much longer.

“From proposal to approval, the standards process took less than two years — a remarkably fast progression,” said NBASE-T Alliance chairman Peter Jones. “Seeing the standard approved so quickly has been an enormously satisfying experience, and shows what can be achieved when we work together to develop a compelling solution that offers clear value to the industry.”

Get your Ethernet system ready for the upgrades: Make sure all of your current cables are up to par, or order some bulk Cat6 cables to take your connections to new speeds.

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