The world of internet speed is moving fast (pun intended). With 5G speeds promised by 2020 and big companies like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and even Nokia working on bridging the gap between now and then, there is immense pressure on Ethernet. It’s the base after all. And its bottleneck at 1 Gbps won’t cut it anymore. The future needs faster internet. Now IEEE has introduced a new standard to carry 5 Gbps over ethernet cables. The standard is called 802.3bz. You may remember the old standard as 802.11ac.
The standard which is formally known as IEEE 802.3bz-2016, 2.5G/5GBASE-T, allows the ethernet cables to carry 2.5G and 5G internet. It was designed to bridge the gap between the Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables and 10 Gbps which requires Cat 6a and 7. As you can see in the chart below, the previous two cables have the most number of outlets globally while the latter two have the short end of the stick. This endeavour began in 2014 so it took less than two years to achieve this milestone.
With the explosion of Wifi in the last few years and of course of 3G and 4G networks all over the world, Ethernet has become a bottleneck. Even consumer 802.11ac gear can do about 1.3-1.6 Gbps but the new 2.5G/5GBASE-T standard will let you run 2.5 Gbps over 100 meters with Cat 5e and 5G over 100 meters with Cat 6.
The 2.5G/5GBASE-T standard differs from the 10GBASE-T standard in one very important way, it uses the 100 MHz or 200 MHz frequency instead of the 400 MHz one. This allows it to work without a super high quality mega shielded cable.
This is an important milestone for two reasons. First of, most of the work we do on our smartphones and computers is cloud based. Almost nothing except our most personal files are saved on our hard disks/solid state drives and even then there are copies on OneDrive/Dropbox/iCloud/Google Drive. Faster Ethernet will help us transition from the hard drive to a totally cloud based system. Secondly, the world is networked with almost 70 billion meters of Cat 5e and Cat 6 cabling (that’s 10 trips to Pluto) and 1.3 billion Cat 5e/6 cable outlets. If not for this advance in technology, switching to 10 Gbps would have meant a slow and tedious replacement of cabling throughout the world and that would’ve made the transition to faster internet a chore instead of a pleasure. More important than that it would’ve been completely unfeasible economically.