802.3bz Provides Congestion Relief – 2.5 Gbps & 5 Gbps Over Copper

May 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Cat5e and Cat6 cables are two of the most widely used cables in the world. Traditionally, for conventional Cat5e and Cat6 twisted-pair copper cabling, Gigabit Ethernet (1 Gbps) is the fastest standard. A wired connection of 1 Gbps is probably enough speed for one PC user, but with the surge of high-speed Wi-Fi devices being used over the last few years, Gigabit Ethernet has become increasingly congested. Thus, the IEEE has developed the 802.3bz standard to ease the pain of 1 Gbps traffic and allow speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps over Cat5e and Cat6 copper cables.

  

To escape the 1 Gbps bottleneck and increase speeds to 10 Gbps, a network cable upgrade to Cat6a or Cat7 is usually required. At an estimated $300 per cable pull, upgrading cable is a costly process and not always feasible, especially for large networks which could also encounter expensive delays and connection disruptions in the process.  Fortunately, the 802.3bz allows users to avoid expensive cable upgrades. This new 2.5G/5GBASE-T standard can provide 2.5 Gbps speeds over 100 meters of Cat5e cable and 5 Gbps speeds over 100 meters of Cat6 cable. These higher speeds are bookended by a switch on one end and either an Ethernet extender or electronic device on the opposite end.

 

The physical layer of 2.5G/5GBASE-T is similar to 10GBASE-T, but uses 200 MHz or 100 MHz spectral bandwidth instead of 400 MHz. This is beneficial because 2.5G/5GBASE-T consumes less than half the bandwidth of 10GBASE-T and doesn’t require a high-quality, mega-shielded cable. The 802.3bz standard also provides additional features such as Power over Ethernet (PoE), which is useful when rolling out Wi-Fi access points.

 

With a growing need for faster connections, 802.3bz provides a sensible way to upgrade networking capabilities without the expense of re-cabling, all while improving user experience and avoiding costly downtime.

 

Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) Pros and Cons

April 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In our previous blog posts, we’ve explored many of the advantages of fiber optic cables. From faster speeds, greater bandwidth, immunity to EMI/RFI and better performance in harsh environments, fiber has a lot of advantages over traditional copper cabling. We’ve also compared multimode fiber vs. single-mode fiber. But what about plastic optical fiber (POF)? Here, we’ll explore the good and the bad of POF and how it can work for you.

 

Plastic Optical Fiber is a large core, step-index optical fiber that can deliver data rates of up to 1 Gbps. POF is an ideal choice for networks with infrastructure runs of up to 80 meters connecting to switches and/or wall plates. Because it’s made of plastic, POF is more durable and is easily installed in minutes with fewer tools and less training.  It is also priced more competitively, which makes it a more attractive option for desktop LAN connections and low-speed short links.

 

POF will support the higher bandwidth demands projected for the average user in the coming years. It is also well-suited for developing new applications that require higher bandwidth, including IPTV and Triple Play services. It can be used in businesses, homes, student housing, apartments and condos. As a matter of fact, the IEEE recently specified the 802.3bv standard for plastic optical fiber. This standard will allow POF to provide Gigabit Ethernet support for applications such as automotive, industrial and home networks.

 

With a typical diameter of 1 mm, POF is about 100 times larger than glass optical fiber, which could be a downfall, but the large size allows it to easily couple a large amount of light from sources and connectors that don’t have to have high precision. This makes termination simple and cuts connector costs by an average of 10-20% compared to glass fibers.

 

POF is ideal for short-range communication networks and plays an important role in military communication networks. It is also safer than glass optical fiber because it uses a harmless green or red light that is easy visible to the eye. Though plastic optical fibers can’t withstand the extreme high-temperatures that glass optical fiber can, they do provide added durability and flexibility for use in data communications, industrial environments and military applications.

 

The list of cons is short: slower data-rates, shorter distances.  

 

POF has a lengthy list of pros. Here’s an overview:

 

·       Lower cost

·       Easier to install

·       Less infrastructure support required

·       50% less power than copper

·       80% less carbon dioxide than copper

·       High-performance data transfer

·       Resists EMI/RFI and crosstalk interference

·       Lightweight and durable

·       Waterproof, moisture-proof and magnetic-free

·       LEED-certified

·       Future 802.3bv standard (1Gbps speeds)

 

How Tech is Changing Transportation

April 19, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

These days, it’s hard to find a part of our everyday lives that’s not being transformed in some way by technology. Transportation is no different. Driverless cars have been at the forefront of most transportation technology discussions lately, but do you know other ways that tech is changing how we get from point A to point B? Here, we’ll take a look at some of the ways technology is changing the transportation industry.

 

Rail

 

Railways are one of the oldest forms of transportation still used today. At their inception, trains were a groundbreaking way for people to get back and forth for everyday commutes, to explore places they’d never been and to transport goods at speeds that were unheard of at the time. Rail systems are still used today for many of the same reasons, but they are much smarter. Today’s rail yards have wired and wireless technology that allows for communication throughout the rail yard to provide security, control and real-time data collection.

 

RFID technology has also been put in place to modernize asset management in rail yard operations. Instead of employees walking from one car to another, manually recording inventory, today’s systems use electronic scanners to record asset information accurately and without the variable of human error. This data is then sent back to a central office where assets can be monitored in real time.

 

Technology is also being used to make rail travel safer by using wayside monitoring applications to record real-time data such as speed, time of passing and track conditions. This critical information is used for real-time scheduling and to generate safety alerts.

 

Roadways

 

Until all of those self-driving cars get on the road, and possibly still after, making roadways safer is another way technology is affecting the transportation industry. In tunnels, cellular and Wi-Fi service are provided by antennas while IP cameras connect to an Ethernet network. These cameras provide real time surveillance to a tunnel control center, so traffic and safety concerns can be monitored live. Digital signs are also connected to the Ethernet network, allowing them to be controlled remotely.

 

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) use wired and wireless technology to control roadway traffic signals and vehicle and pedestrian safety systems. These systems utilize technology to manage traffic flow and ease congestion on the roads. Roadway security and overall safety is also improved with IP cameras and traffic sensors providing live surveillance and control.

 

With the use of wireless technology, roadside digital signs are able to deliver real time messaging along roadways with live updates being delivered from a central control office. These messages can include weather updates, traffic and road condition alerts and information on alternate routes, all of which can make travel easier, more efficient and save lives.

 

Maritime

 

An entire ship, including every part of shipboard communications and surveillance, can be managed via a central management station by using an Ethernet network and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). 

 

IP cameras are used for monitoring, cables connect propulsion and steering systems to a controller, and antennas allow for voice and data communications and RFID management of cargo containers.

 

To load and unload ships, modern seaport terminals use automated crane systems to save freight companies millions of dollars in labor, maintenance and repairs. Computers are housed in a secure location, connected to Ethernet networks and used to control the cranes. This wireless network allows remote control over operations without the cost of running cables.

 

On the dock, keeping track of personnel, assets and ground support vehicles is made easier with wireless communications. Antennas allow for communication with the central operations command center. They also support Intermodal container RFID tracking systems which enable wireless devices to quickly and accurately process container and inventory information in real-time. With cellular and Wi-Fi communication between crews, freight companies can save money and increase security by eliminating the need for traditional radio communications.

 

For an in-depth look at what L-com products are being used to deliver technology to the transportation industry, click here.

 

Why DC is Making a Comeback in Data Centers

April 12, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

It’s safe to say that the environment has become a hot button issue lately. We are having more conversations about how people are affecting the environment and what we can do to lessen those effects. That said, did you know that data centers create an ecological footprint as big as the airline industry? In fact, in the last few years, data centers have consumed more power than the entire UK. Needless to say, data centers are energy consuming monsters. But what can be done to stop all of that energy usage? There’s no way we’re going to disassemble all of our data centers. That’s where DC power comes in.

 

At the end of the 19th century, there was the first ever battle for technology standard supremacy: alternating current (AC) vs. direct current (DC). In the end, AC came out on top. Though there are many DC devices still used today, AC has long reigned supreme as the primary standard for power. But now that we are rethinking energy usage, use of DC is again on the rise, especially high-voltage direct current (HVDC) which allows for low-loss bulk transmissions of electrical power over long distances.

 

Massive amounts of unused electricity disappear throughout data center systems. Energy is lost in cooling, air conditioning, processors and the distribution of power. Traditionally, data centers transform AC voltage into DC power and then convert it back into AC. The problem is that during each conversion from AC to DC and back to AC, energy disappears in the form of heat loss. This energy loss gets worse as the heat loss is cooled and discharged, which requires more components that create more heat.

 

 

Eliminating the conversion from DC to AC and using DC voltage in data centers might be a perfect solution. If a server is already using DC power, it can continue to be used throughout the chain and any incoming AC voltage can be converted to DC for distribution. Some studies have shown that avoiding multiple transformations and conversion can make power supply to the server 10% more power efficient.  Plus, the architecture of a DC power chain is made up of considerably fewer components than AC, which means less space needed for electrical infrastructure. Systems with fewer components can be installed faster, create fewer errors and are easier to maintain, making them more reliable and cheaper in the long run.

 

Thus, making the change to DC power could eliminate much of this power loss, save energy, improve the environment and help businesses, but it would require an industry-wide shift in perspective. Worldwide, data centers in several countries already use DC technology, but there are no standards for its use. Efforts are being made to standardize DC power, and while not all have been successful thus far, we might start to see a gradual shift from AC to DC. Skills and knowledge of DC technology will also need to be developed if this were to become the popular standard. Plus, there would need to be an increase in availability of DC components. DC systems do still have some heat loss, and they require air conditioning, fire protection, building control and access control systems. The biggest obstacle will be getting people to recognize that using DC in data centers could have enormous benefits. Once the perception begins to change, people will be more likely to switch to DC data centers and adopt new standards to make data centers more economical and environmentally friendly.

 

LoRaWAN and the IoT

April 5, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, new technology to foster its growth also emerges. One example is LoRaWAN.

 

LoRaWAN was developed by the LoRa Alliance as a way to standardize the global deployment of low-power, wide-area networks (LPWAN) to enable the IoT. LoRaWAN is a LPWAN specification designed for wireless, battery operated devices in a regional, national or global network. The focus of LoRaWAN is fulfilling key requirements of the IoT with secure, bi-directional communication, mobility and localization services.

 

LoRaWAN is a media access control (MAC) payer protocol made for large-scale public networks with a single operator. This specification allows for interoperability between smart Things without complicated local installations, which offers more freedom for users, developers and businesses, and enables easier implementation of the IoT. The low power wide-area networks used in the LoRaWAN specification are able to provide low data rate, low cost, long battery life and long range – all of which is ideal for IoT devices. Plus, the simple star network architecture means there are no repeaters and no mesh routing complexity.

 

How does it work? LoRaWAN is a star network and the way it operates is somewhat simple. The gateway communicates messages between the end-devices, and vice versa, through single-hop wireless communication. There is also a network server in the background that is connected to the gateway via a standard IP connection. With this standard, end-point communication is usually bi-directional, though LoRaWAN also supports mass distribution messages to decrease on air communication time. Communication between gateways and end-devices is distributed between different data rates and frequency channels, which helps to avoid interference. Data rates with LoRaWAN range from 0.3 kbps to 50 kbps. The LoRaWAN server manages the data rate and RF output for each device with an adaptive data rate scheme, this maximizes battery life of the end-devices and network capacity. LoRaWAN also provides extra security with several layers of encryption, which is necessary for nation-wide networks designed for IoT use. These layers of protection consist of a unique network key (EUI64) for a secure network, a unique application key (EUI64) for end-to-end security on an application level and a device specific key (EUI128).

 

There are three different classes of LoRaWAN end-point devices:

 

  • ·       Class A - Bi-directional end-devices: This class of end-devices are capable of bi-directional communications, this means the after the uplink transmission of each device there are two short downlink receive windows. These end-devices follow an ALOHA-type protocol where the transmission scheduled is mostly based on the communication needs of the end-device, with some times chosen randomly. The Class A operations system provides the lowest power option for applications that only need downlink communication from the server after an uplink transmission has been sent by the end-device.

 

  • ·       Class B – Bi-directional end-devices with scheduled receive slots: Class B devices unlock additional receive windows at scheduled times, in addition to random receive windows like Class A. To open the receive window at a scheduled time, the end-device receives a time synchronized beacon from the gateway which alerts the server of when the end-device is listening.

 

  • ·       Class C – Bi-directional end-devices with maximal receive slots: Class C end-devices have receive windows that are almost always open, only closing when a transmission is in progress.

 

As IoT use increases, LoRaWAN provides a low data rate, low cost option making it easier to connect Things locally or globally, all while providing long battery life and long range.

 

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