Whether you are a guest at a hotel, a resident at a senior living community, or a student on campus, your experience in each of those spaces is enabled, in many ways, by technology. Smart devices, audio/visual equipment, Wi-Fi, security systems, and IoT are just a few of the technologies that keep us connected, safer, and happier as we share our latest updates, maximize productivity on the go, and collaborate on the next big idea. As we bring more devices into our spaces, we also bring the need for more connectivity and smarter network designs.
What is the “tech bottleneck”?
As we continue to demand more of our networks, we face a series of connectivity challenges: long-reach applications, space constraints, unplanned connectivity, routine infrastructure upgrades, and more. This “tech bottleneck” is challenging us to deliver future-flexible connectivity beyond the 100-meter limitation of legacy networks. We can solve these challenges with a Fiber to the Edge network architecture, and this article outlines three ways that we can design smarter networks.
Overcoming distance limitations
Let’s look at an example: An apartment complex needs to install security cameras in the parking garage but has limited telecommunication rooms or pathway space. Traditionally, they would need to install larger conduit and more local power outlets throughout the garage and build IDF closets every 100 meters to support their remote devices.
Instead, the apartment complex could overcome the 100-meter distance limitation of Category cable networks by choosing composite cable which has fiber and copper conductors under the same jacket. Composite cable brings together the long-reach capabilities of fiber and the powering capabilities of copper to deliver data and power beyond 2,000 feet. With this Fiber to the Edge approach, the apartment can remotely power their devices from a single headend, reduce pathway requirements, and eliminate the need for local power outlets. In the future, they can add more devices like smart-parking sensors without having to pull additional cable.
Staying ahead of future technology requirements
Because each application has different network requirements, there is no “one size fits all” approach to network design. Building owners and network managers need flexibility to grow, change, and expand without having to install additional electronics at the edge or rework their entire network design.
First, consider above-ceiling applications such as:
• Audio/visual applications that have specific timing requirements to prevent lag
• Wi-Fi access points that seamlessly serve multiple users and multiple connected devices
• Pan-tilt-zoom security cameras that send large amounts of data up the network
These types of high-throughput devices often demand more bandwidth, and IT managers may choose to enable these devices with a dedicated point-to-point connection, also known as Active Ethernet.
Next, think of the prevalence of applications like CCTV security cameras, IoT sensors, access controls, printers, sound masking controllers, point-of-sale devices, and door locks. These technologies are located everywhere throughout our properties, and we must design networks that can scale to provide connectivity to each of these individual devices. To cost-effectively reach this level of scale, building owners may choose to enable some applications with a point-to-multipoint connection, also known as Passive Optical Networking (PON).
Choosing a flexible network solution with dual-mode capabilities allows building owners to choose the right transport technology to meet the specific requirements of each application and make changes as their technology plans evolve.
Adapting for technology growth areas
Our increasing demand for wireless connectivity is one of the main drivers that is challenging building owners to design their networks differently. Think about this scenario: A university is upgrading its Wi-Fi access points so students can collaborate and work throughout campus without any network delays. Traditionally, they would need to rip-and-replace or pull additional Category cable to achieve the next generation of Wi-Fi speeds. However, with so many wireless devices on the network, our Wi-Fi access points start looking more like “wireless switches,” so we need an infrastructure that can meet these bandwidth and power demands. Instead of feeding the access points with Category cable from the telecommunication room, they can pull a composite cable to each location. So, next time they upgrade their Wi-Fi, they can leave their infrastructure investment in place.
Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more
We’ve only just scratched the surface of solving these infrastructure and connectivity challenges. Our on-demand webinar will dive into these topics, explain a Fiber to the Edge network architecture, and share examples from hospitality, higher education, senior living, and other use cases.