Gigabit Internet service is coming! While we have all heard about google fiber and AT&T fiber, Verizon FIOS, an announcement made by Comcast last week about a breakthrough served to accelerate the rollout of gigabit fiber. Comcast has successfully tested a DOCSIS 3.1 modem that allows them to provide gigabit internet service through its existing coax infrastructure with rollouts planned by the end of 2016.
As gigabit internet is coming, a common question is asked – what do I need to get ready? There are three things that you need to prepare – cabling, network, and client devices.
In order to take advantage of the maximum potential of gigabit internet, if you have wired connections – make sure your Ethernet cables in wall are Cat 5e or above. These are capable of support gigabit throughput.
One of the most critical links is in the modem and router. Usually the modem is provided by the Internet Service Provider. Some of these routers may include an all in one router and wireless, which may not work as well with our customers networks. In that case, you will need a router with a LAN to WAN throughput of close to 1 gigabit. In this case, there is only one option in the marketplace that is designed specifically for AV – the Pakedge RK1.
Now is also a good time to look at your existing switches. You will need to have 10/100/1000 (gigabit) switches throughout your network. If you have fast Ethernet switches (10/100), you will need to selectively replace those. I say selectively, because you may have parts of your network that is not concerned with gigabit service. For example, you may have a printer that is connected to a 10/100 switch.
It is also important to look at your wireless access points. You want to be on the latest 802.11ac wave 1 3 x 3 wireless. This is important because a 3 x 3 has a maximum theoretical speed of 1.3 Gbps (that is a maximum speed, but in actual usage, you will get about one half to two thirds of that due to attenuation and other real world conditions). Compared to a 2 x 2, a 3 x 3 is about 20 to 30% faster in real world use. Compared to 802.11n technology, a 3 x 3 is approximately 5 times faster. If you are going to replace your current 802.11n model to 802.11ac, please note that you may need more WAPs as the 5 GHz footprint is smaller than the 2.4 GHz footprint. Good options for a 3 x 3 wireless are the Pakedge WX-1 and WK-2 wireless access points.
Finally, your client devices must be capable of supporting gigabit traffic. If you plan on streaming content to your computer, whether it is a laptop or desktop, you will need to verify that it has a gigabit port. If not, you may need a gigabit network adapter such as these –
- USB to 10/100/1000 Ethernet (ideal for laptop computers or desktop computers with an available USB port) – http://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-1000-Gigabit-Ethernet-Adapter/dp/B00M77HMU0/
- Gigabit Network Adapter card (for desktop computers) – http://www.amazon.com/Realtek-RTL8111C-Ethernet-Interface-SOFTWARE/dp/B007MWYCG2
If you are connecting your computer to the network via wireless means, verify to make sure your computer has an 802.11ac adapter card such as these:
- For desktop computers – http://www.amazon.com/TP-LINK-Archer-T6E-Wireless-Express/dp/B016K0896K
- For laptop computers – http://ww.amazon.com/Bplus-7260-HMWG-Wireless-AC-Bluetooth-HMCPartner/dp/B00HJCBV64
Finally, make sure your AV streaming devices are capable of supporting gigabit traffic. Client devices connected to the network through a Ethernet cable must have a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port to pass gigabit traffic through. Client devices connected wireless must support the 5 GHz band and built on the 802.11ac technology standard. The 5 GHz is the one you will be transmitting your content on, as the 2.4 GHz is not capable of supporting that kind of speed (AC is a 5 GHz technology), and more importantly, 2.4 is subject to a lot of interference. Please note that to stream over the 5 GHz band, you may need to add more access points (assuming that your current WAPs do not have 5 GHz or may not be optimized for 5 GHz coverage