In its latest statement, R&M – the globally active developer and provider of cabling systems for high-quality network infrastructures based in Wetzikon, Switzerland – points out the bottlenecks that will be seen in many local data networks in future. “What we are seeing is that local area networks in many existing office buildings are reaching their limits in terms of performance,” reports R&M CEO Michel Riva. Four key factors justify the need for a generational change when it comes to structured cabling.
As cited by R&M from a study carried out by market research organization BSRIA, approximately 80% of the office buildings and functional buildings in western industrialized countries were built before 1990. The structured cabling in these buildings also usually dates from when the buildings were built. At that time, the LAN was designed for a maximum transmission performance of 1 Gigabit Ethernet. “If office networks are to remain usable for the next 20 years, they will require a performance of ten times this at 10 Gigabit Ethernet in future. This is in addition to robust protection against external interference, among other aspects,” comments Matthias Gerber, Market Manager LAN Cabling at R&M.
This is why R&M sees a need for Europe and North America in particular to catch up here, at a time where the network technology used initially in young and emerging countries is already of a higher standard in some cases. R&M expects companies and authorities to retrofit or modernize a significant number of office buildings and functional buildings in the coming years. It also expects the market for structured cabling to continue to grow by 2 to 3% annually, which confirms the forecasts made by market researchers. The sales of fiber optic systems will grow more strongly than those of copper systems. R&M supports both areas with a product range of the highest quality for technically demanding applications. This ranges from the Cat. 6A portfolio with groundbreaking protection technology and quick mounting technology all the way through to complete solutions for affordable Passive Optical LAN infrastructures. R&M generates over 50% of its sales in the LAN Cabling market segment, which addresses specific fields of application such as healthcare, finance, retail, transport, sport and tourism, research and education in addition to general office, administration and functional buildings.
Matthias Gerber gives four decisive factors which, from the point of view of R&M, make a generational change in structured office and building cabling unavoidable:
- Data throughput: If a large number of computer workstations within a company have to quickly access virtual machines, cloud services and software, then an increase in IP traffic is inevitable. “And all at a scale that has never been seen before,” comments Matthias Gerber. For productive work to remain possible, the LAN requires greater performance and system reserves.
- Latency: The current trend towards integrated communication with IP-based phone, conferencing and video services requires a latency-free, secure signal transmission. Bandwidth reserves are required in order to be able to ensure these special requirements are met in parallel with normal data transmission.
- Wireless: Nowadays, every commercial building must support mobile communication and its high demand for bandwidth. This requires an increasingly denser network of access points. The many wireless LAN antennas have to be connected to a powerful cabling system. “The next generation of wireless access points will require a 10 Gbit/s uplink,” explains Matthias Gerber.
- Convergence: The local data network will also cover the needs of IP-based building automation in future. R&M is convinced that separate infrastructures and silo thinking in the cabling trades are now firmly in the past. Standardized IP networks and Power over Ethernet are used to integrate virtually every building function as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). This convergence makes it easier to automate tasks such as saving energy and to control them via the Internet. Intelligent building management also helps to increase safety and brings added comfort for building users. The digital ceiling concept is one of the prerequisites for the convergence. According to R&M, the decisive aspect is to renew, expand and safeguard the local data network in an appropriate way. Market Manager Matthias Gerber: “The Internet of Things with its soon-to-be 33 billion end devices – whether in intelligent buildings or smart cities – needs convergent network infrastructures in order to reach its full potential. Ubiquitous, robust LAN access points are needed.”
“Of course, the cabling of offices and buildings cannot be expanded at the same breathtaking speed at which the IP traffic is growing,” emphasizes R&M CEO Michel Riva. Local data networks should therefore be planned on a long-term basis and with the greatest possible system reserves. The selected cabling systems must be future-proof. They normally have to support new applications and equipment for 20 years or more. “A LAN with a transmission performance of 10 Gigabit Ethernet may seem a little excessive today. However, the full performance may soon already be needed,” comments Michel Riva with an eye on the future.