Office & Enterprise

What will new WAPs and networked devices mean for the LAN?

Jan Middeldorf Dec 9, 2021

Wireless developments affecting LANs and FTTO

In offices and workplaces, Wireless LAN has become an essential platform for offering all of the (cloud-based, real-time) services and features people expect. However, developments in Wireless technology are changing the hardware and cabling requirements of in-building networks. What’s more, traditional LANs and Fibre To The Office (FTTO) networks are affected in different ways. Wi-Fi 6 - the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology – has been developed especially for crowded areas. It has been designed to work at 2.4 and 5 GHz and, with the latest extension Wi-Fi 6E, at 6 GHz too. Bandwidth has increased using higher modulation rates (1024-QAM) – which requires better radio signal quality. This is generally achieved by decreasing radio cell reach by some 30%. That means more access points are required to cover the same area, compared to earlier Wi-Fi versions. With the new generation of Wi-Fi, it has become relatively easy to achieve bandwidth in excess of 1Gigabit, resulting in the recommendation to use multi-gigabit uplinks. WI-FI 7 which should become available in about three years will see an increase in modulation, which will quadruple to 4k QAM, and a doubling of the number of spatial streams from 8 to 16. This will increase power consumption and require even greater cell density to maintain quality of service.

Increasing requirements

The various technology advances require more power, which can be provided using PoE++ (IEEE 802.3bt). The latest Power over Ethernet standard (IEEE 802.3 bt / PoE++) uses all four cable pairs to provide up to 71.3 W to powered devices (the original PoE standard from 2003 provided less than 13 W) which means 90 W needs to be provided at the Port Side. PoE ++ is compatible with earlier standards, supports 10GBase-T and can power the latest generations of Access Points, as well as applications such as digital signage and IP cameras. Because multigigabit and PoE ++ technology is not (yet) widely installed in the field, manufacturers are including additional ports to meet power and bandwidth requirements through aggregation. Currently available Access Points often feature multiple uplink ports and can require almost 40 W.

Challenges to connections

In the traditional LAN, you can enlarge the number of Access Points by adding cabling to the floor distributor which results in additional cable bundles in the ceiling. Also, new active ports providing multigigabit and PoE++ need to be added to the floor distributor. Finally, this could result in an update of the power and cooling concept. But what is the situation in FTTO networks? In an FTTH network, no floor distributors are available… And what is the easiest way to connect new Wireless Access Points with their higher data and power demands along with an increasing number of other devices, such as sensors and actuators for IoT and Smart Building applications?

Smart solutions for changing LAN demands

Nexans’ LANactive digital ceiling solution provides an answer. This allows us to extend the existing FTTO concept. New technology serves Wi-Fi applications with the latest power and data requirements, based on a new compact switch optimized for ceiling installation. This Digital Ceiling Switch connects hardware in the ceiling to applications throughout the office and offers seamless digital integration with existing FTTO networks. Switch management has the same look and feel and uses the same connection and configuration approach via the existing central software solution LANactive Manager.

Our Red Dot award winning XGigaSwitch DICE (X for ‘10G’, DIgital CEiling) offers 10Gb uplinks, multigigabit user ports, additional ports for other ceiling equipment, and up to eight PoE ++ Power Ports. Fanless design means there’s no noise, so you can install multiple units in an office without disturbing anyone. The compact 34 x 17 x 5 cm design is compatible with a variety of commonly used mounting methods, including 19” racks, and it is also possible with an additional mounting frame to terminate optical uplinks and power. All ports are accessible from one side, which is ideal wherever space is limited, and various security and protection features are part of the design.

Redundancy is a hot topic if you’re currently using an FTTO topology. DICE redundancy is the same as with existing switches. You can create a ring topology using ring protocols, or you can double the uplink using Link Aggregation, with LACP, for example.

Power level redundancy is made possible with a centralised power concept. A large central supply for the building, or on each floor, allows users to connect multiple devices with redundant power. The power budget for DICE depends on the chosen power supply concept – the core budget is 250 W, but using a centralized power supply, it can be as high as 500 W over PoE per switch.

Next to Wi-Fi Access Points, more and more devices need to be connected to the IP infrastructure, which is a challenge for existing network infrastructure. DICE as an extension of FTTO offers a fast and flexible provisioning of data and services exactly where they are needed and meets current and future network requirements for Wi-Fi and Smart Building applications.

If you’d like to discuss how you can ensure your FTTO network will be ready for the next generation of WAPs and the fast-increasing number of connected devices, or if you’d like to know more about introducing Fibre To The Office to replace a traditional LAN, get in touch!

About the author

Jan Middeldorf

Jan Middeldorf is Senior Product Manager with Nexans Advanced Networking Solutions as part of the Telecom & Data Business Group. Jan holds a master’s degree in information and communication technology and has more than 10 years of experience in the Telecommunication business. Before joining Nexans, Jan has worked as Application Engineer and Network Engineer.

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