Psiber Data Systems - Next Generation Communications Technologies and Implications for Copper Cabling

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During the past three decades communications technologies have seen dramatic evolution. One aspect of this evolution is bandwidth demand, which continues to grow exponentially from 1 Mbit/sec to 1 Gbit/sec to 10 Gbits/sec to 40 and 100 Gbits/sec. Second is the adoption of IP and internet, which led to convergence of media. Today most communications applications can use IP and Ethernet for exchanging information. Another phenomenon that has great impact is the huge growth in wireless communications systems; wireless has become the most common medium for personal communications.

Interestingly, the growth story of communications technologies is not limited to speed. It is about accessibility. Breaking technological limits of performance in terms of speed is one objective. But on the other hand, there are innovations on application space that utilize available technologies more effectively for the society. There are several examples to illustrate this:

  • On one hand, technologies like HSPA+, WiMAX, and LTE push the data rates on mobile devices higher towards tens of megabits/second; and on the other hand there is a proliferation of applications that use low speed wireless technologies like SMS more effectively.
  • Optical fiber communications links are enabling extremely high speed communication links over large distances. At the same time, there is huge growth in use of lower cost fiber for end-user access applications like FTTH.
  • The story for copper cabling systems is a similar one. On one hand, the industry is heading towards 40 Gbps speeds on structured copper cabling systems. On the other hand, copper structured cables are proving to be low cost and unified medium for applications including security and power distribution to data equipment.

Copper Structured Cabling and 40Gbps

There are many skeptics who believe that structure cabling will lose its relevance after 10GBASE-T. They have reasons to believe so given that copper cabling systems are challenged from wireless and fiber. For applications that are not very bandwidth intensive, primary access mechanism is increasingly wireless. For high bandwidth links particularly in data centers, fiber is increasingly justifiable. Despite these factors, the fact remains that copper structured cabling market is poised for a double digit growth rate in 2011. This level of growth is forecasted to last at least next five years, driven by applications like VoIP, IP video, and PoE, and demand from growing economies like China and India. The question is what happens after five years...

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