09 February 2021
A growing need to measure the maximum bandwidth available on networks, identify bottlenecks, and then find ways to increase bandwidth presents network technicians with new challenges. One such challenge is working out which type of tester will enable them to overcome these issues, all while keeping costs under control. For network technicians and systems integrators in this situation, Dan Barrera, global product Manager for Ideal Networks has some advice.
There is ever-increasing demand on LAN networks from bandwidth hungry services, such as video streaming, video conferencing, CCTV cameras and Wi-Fi access points. This extra pressure on networks can lead to expensive downtime and lost productivity. However, replacing all expensive data cabling to improve bandwidth is cost-prohibitive for many organisations.
At the same time, there are 111 billion metres of Cat5e/Cat6 cabling installed globally that is limited to 1Gb/s bandwidth speeds due to the current switches deployed. In the past there was no simple way to check the maximum bandwidth that existing cabling would support if you upgraded to Multi-Gigabit switches delivering 2.5, 5 or 10Gb/s speeds.
However, with the right choice of tester, that is no longer the case and it is now possible to prove the system will support the bandwidth required before an expensive investment is made. They key is to select a tester that offers the right features.
1. Copper cable performance test capability
The best scenario is to verify that Multi-Gigabit switches will work before they are deployed. Proving what speeds the data cabling will support (up to 10Gb/s) before spending money on new Multi-Gigabit switches delivering 2.5/5/10Gb/s speeds is of clear benefit to customers.
Look for a tester that offers a maximum throughput test. This takes away the guesswork so with one test you can easily see what hardware or applications would work on an existing link, saving time and reducing the cost of replacing expensive data cabling. To meet customer requirements, select a tester that also proves performance to copper IEEE standards and produces professional reports quickly and easily to demonstrate this.
2. PoE test options
Many different applications have adopted PoE (Power over Ethernet), such as monitors, digital signage, phones, security cameras, lighting, and access control. A PoE tester is a vital tool for helping technicians identify whether a device will operate successfully and eliminates guesswork when installing, maintaining. and troubleshooting where PoE is deployed up to 90W (PoE++). Look for a tester which identifies the Class of the PoE source and power available up to 90W to a PoE device regardless of cable length, cable quality or other factors. As with copper cable, you’ll want to select test equipment which also provides you with a clear pass/fail to IEEE 802.3af/at/bt standards and Class (1 to 8) to prove performance to customers.
3. Future proof options
When selecting a tester, its importantly to think about your network needs today and tomorrow and select a future proof option that maximises your investment. One thing that can help with this is selecting a tester that offers the option to unlock or add additional features only as and when you need them. For instance, fibre testing modules or network testing capabilities.
Another consideration is meeting the needs of a changing workforce, that is increasingly dispersed. Following Covid-19, more people are working from home than ever before and there continues to be a need to reduce face to face contact wherever possible, even though it may be essential to visit a site to keep the network running.
Test equipment increasingly caters to this demand with cloud-based test management tools that enable pre-configuration of jobs and tests to be done by Project Managers based anywhere with a web browser, even while working from home. Look for some of the latest generation of bandwidth testers which also enable Project Managers to connect to the job site remotely to troubleshoot failed links therefore minimising troubleshooting time, increasing collaboration, reducing call-backs, and limiting person to person interaction.
Whether you’re a data cable installer, systems integrator, IT enterprise or AV installer, the key thing to look for is a feature-rich tester which brings together a range of diagnostic tools to support faster troubleshooting and minimise downtime, in turn helping to reduce both trips to site, and the time taken to complete the job.
Visit www.idealnetworks.net for more information on future-proof bandwidth and 10G Ethernet test options.