Technology trends in our personal life are now driving trends in our work and business life. Software as a Service (SaaS), aka the Netflix Model, has changed the way our businesses operate on a daily basis. People are demanding more and demanding it now. Seriously take a minute to think how much technology has changed in the last 10 years… Today we are able to click a button online and have our products delivered to our door in less than two hours. Where can we possibly go in the next 10 years? Yes, the cloud, co-located data centers, and IoT (internet of things) will still drive change – but what’s the next big trend that will change the way we do business yet again?
That’s a complicated answer and no one really knows. But, businesses can at least prepare for the possibilities by always looking into the future. We’ve learned by now that if you aren’t looking ahead, you will lose money investing in the wrong ways. By the time you adapt to changes in 2019, all your competitors are in 2025.
One thing is for certain: Cabling is the infrastructure that supports business operations today. It will always be that way. The only change is the amount of bandwidth and amount of data & devices connected. Some think that cables will eventually go away with wireless, but they forget that those wireless access point that give them a wireless option, still need to be wired. So, while the cabling needs and designs will change, the importance of cabling will continue to grow.
The best copper cable today is the Category 6a cable. It can support 10 Gbps speed at 100 meters (that’s a lot). How will we ever need more than that?! But we will. Back in 1990, Category 3 cable was created to support 10Gbps – which at that time, very few devices would even support that much speed. Category 7 is next, but is not widely available. It will be even thicker, filled with more copper to support even more distance and speed. Which at some point, we’re going to run into physical issues with using copper.
Now, in comes fiber optic cable. Fiber is made from thin strands of glass. Instead of sending a signal over copper, fiber sends bursts of light through the thin glass strand. This different cable construction allows for fiber to have much higher bandwidth and distance limitations compared to copper. We mainly use fiber for underground (outside plant) or backbone (riser) cable. The main difference between the two is the cost. Fiber is more expensive and it always has been. But, as fiber is produced more, the cost will come down and the differences will be minimal. Today’s devices do not directly support a fiber connection, so converting to fiber ports may be a big change we see in the future. Currently, some wireless access points and security cameras take a direct connection. Fiber can support speeds over 100Gbps and has been tested at a terabyte per second.
As a low voltage contractor, some of our work is spend ripping out and replacing old cable with new ones. We are also installing a lot of fiber within our projects and will continue to see an increase in those installs. We aim to be a resource for our customers in making sure they are making the most educated decisions for their future needs. And so far, the future is fiber.