Perimeter security lighting is the first defense against theft, vandalism, and harm. Since most mayhem of this type happens in the dark, perimeter lighting should play a significant role in any organization’s security plans. However, until recently, fence line lighting was limited to the same legacy technology used to light roadways, parking lots, athletic fields, etc. Then came the first low-voltage, fence-mounted security system designed with security as its focal point: the CAST Perimeter™ Security Lighting System. In this article, we will look at perimeter lighting as a whole, as well as CAST Lighting’s one-of-a-kind security lighting system.
Perimeter Security Lighting is Vital
The importance of security lighting is evident. It is used to keep intruders out, detect them if they are in the area, and detain them if they breach the perimeter. According to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), a security lighting system must:
- Deter crime against persons and property
- Deny potential hiding places along frequently traveled foot routes
- Provide a clear view of an area from a distance, allowing movement to be easily detected
- Allow for facial recognition with CCTV systems and on-site security personnel
The items listed above sound relatively straightforward; however, they have everything to do with how the human eye and a security camera register light. The everyday pole lights we are used to were never explicitly designed for security cameras or an on-site security crew. They were intended merely to provide light. Unfortunately, they give too much light in most instances, causing blinding glare and deep shadows where troublemakers can hide. To understand this, we need to take a quick look at how the human eye works.
Image Credit: cast-lighting.com
The Human Eye
The human eye works a bit like a camera lens. If you go out into the daylight, the iris of your eye automatically constricts to optimize your sight. In their e-book, entitled The Evolution of Perimeter Security Lighting, CASE explains:
More light is not necessarily better when it comes to night lighting. When illuminating for optimal security, it is important to understand how the human eye works and design around these parameters. The iris of the human eye—just like a camera aperture—widens or narrows depending on the amount of ambient light. In the daytime, the iris constricts to limit the amount of light into the eye, adjusting for optimal vision. In the evening, the iris naturally widens to its maximum opening, allowing for the greater amounts of light allowed in, giving the optimal light to see at night. As a result, the security lighting goal now becomes twofold. The first objective is to create the perfect interaction with the human eye for optimal performance; the second is to create the right light setting for CCTV camera operation.
Image Credit: pmgbiology.com
Many of today’s lighting designers are still designing to 1990s specs of outdated lumen (the total amount of visible light) and lux (the total amount of light falling to the ground) values. This traditional lighting provides way too much light, which not only uses unnecessary energy and equipment and creates light pollution but is also, ironically, unsafe. Simply put: conventional lighting systems are sufficient for parking lots and roadways. They are not okay for security lighting.
CAST Perimeter states:
The solution is to match the optimal and natural light level for the human eye to the onsite camera systems. Providing an evenly distributed, lower-level, glare-free lighting system is the goal of any optimized perimeter security lighting system.
Types of Security Systems: Passive vs. Active
The first step to take when selecting a security system is to determine if it should be passive or active. Here is the difference:
Passive Security System
Passive security systems are designed to discourage intruders. The goal of this type of system is to make threats difficult and to delay them. Should a breach occur, you will become aware of it only after it takes place. You will need to replay the video to determine what happened, then call the police and insurance companies for help.
Active Security System
Active security systems react to intrusions as they happen, allowing action to be taken immediately. One example of an active system is a CCTV surveillance system that sends a signal to the owner, monitoring company or the police.
CAST Perimeter says,
When coupling lighting with these proactive solutions, you gain a tactical advantage slowing down the threat and exposing the intruder, causing him or her to pause or retreat. Intruders don’t like to be seen. The ability to disorient intruders when they are first detected will usually cause the perpetrator to think twice. This is done by dimming lights or turning them on or off repeatedly. A good security plan will contain layers of security features and will not rely on any one single security measure for success.
Image Credit: cast-lighting.com
What Makes CAST Perimeter™ Security Lighting Different?
This first-of-its-kind security lighting system has many unique features. This system uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which can be custom made or purchased in ready-to-install kits that range from 800 to 1200 feet. The benefits of this LED lighting system are:
- Low Voltage: 24-volt power is safe and easy to install. Because of the low voltage, there is no need to hire an expensive electrician. Instead, this system can be installed by a certified low-voltage technician.
- Low Maintenance: With this lighting system, there is no need for large concrete footings, cranes, bucket trucks, or yearly maintenance. It is fast and easy to install, and care calls for one worker, a truck, and a step ladder.
- Safe: All CAST products are:
- UL listed (1838 and 8750 standards)
- IP66 ingress protection rated
- CE listed
- FCC Class B certified
- Dark-Sky Friendly: CAST’s lighting system adheres to the nonprofit Dark-Sky Association, which advocates against light pollution, the Modern Light Ordinance of North America, and meets the IESNA standard for “full cutoff” optics.
The Bottom Line
The CAST Perimeter™ Security Lighting System boasts the following benefits:
- 50 to 80 percent less material cost than traditional lighting systems depending on the fixture selected
- 50 to 80 percent less labor cost than traditional lighting systems depending on the fixture selected
- Safe low-voltage 24-volt power supply
- Low 7 to 28-wattage consumption models available to save ongoing energy costs
- Excellent L70-life expectancy of 65,000 hour LEDs
- Simple, fast installation
- Mounts easily to a fence, post, pillar, or wall
- Great warranty
A Word About Us
Versa Technology delivers last-mile networking technologies to IT professionals in Africa, Australia, China, Europe, North America, South America, Southeast Asia, and more. Our unwavering goal is to provide the best support to help our customers achieve their computer networking goals. To view our products and services, click here.
We live in electrifying times—and we mean that literally!
We are reaping the benefits of the Third Industrial Revolution—the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. Our world is now positioned in the first stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, complete with Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices and non-IoT connected devices numbering in the billions. According to Statista, there will be just over 10 billion non-IoT active devices by 2025.¹
Here’s where the challenge comes in: Those 10 billion devices need energy currently supplied by batteries. Examples of these battery-dependent devices are:
- Digital cameras and camcorders
- Portable radios and TVs
- Electronic razors and toothbrushes
- Power tools
- And more.
Installing, maintaining, and replacing billions (maybe even trillions) of batteries is a big logistical nightmare. In addition, improperly discarded lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries leak into the soil at landfills and cause air contamination. They have even been reported to have exploded and caused fires. Another problem is the expectation that many lithium-ion raw materials will be scarce by the middle of this century.
One alternative that is currently emerging is the Zinc-ion battery, which is not as caustic and explosive and is made up of raw materials that are still quite plentiful. However, it is still a battery.
It’s all about energy
According to ONiO, a healthcare-focused semiconductor company that brings self-powered, batteryless solutions to the IoT market:
Globally, we use about 607 quintillion joules of energy each year. Our energy needs are only increasing, with our rapid population growth, and global energy expenditure is expected to be around 777 quintillion joules by the year 2040. These are mind-bending figures and it is no wonder then that issues of energy and energy shortage feature so prominently in global policymaking.²
Because of these nearly unfathomable numbers and the fact that many of our energy sources are finite, we are constantly hearing about the need for renewable, environmentally-friendly energy sources.
So, here is where energy harvesting comes in.
What is energy harvesting?
Energy harvesting (also called energy scavenging or ambient power) captures small amounts of ambient energy and converts it into electricity. This harvested energy can either be used immediately or stored for use later. Energy harvesting is in the first stages of development. It shows signs of potential for providing electricity to areas with no power grid and where the installation of wind turbines or solar power is inefficient.
What is ambient energy?
As we move about our daily lives, there is energy all around us that is going to waste. There is electromagnetic (EM) energy from cellular, TV, and radio transmitters and from satellite and other wireless communication systems. There is energy from light, heat from the sun and the earth’s interior, wind, ocean waves, river currents, and sound waves that simply dissipate into the ether. Even when you walk down the street, you generate energy. The movement from your arms and legs generates kinetic energy; the friction with your clothing as you move generates thermal energy. The idea of energy harvesting is to capture this wasted energy and convert it into electricity to power a device.
How does energy harvesting work?
As mentioned before, energy harvesting is still in its early stages. However, there are still some interesting energy harvesting applications available today. (More about this later). Energy harvesting works differently based on the source, amount, and type of energy being harnessed. There are four basic sources of energy:
- Heat energy (waste energy from heaters, friction, engines, furnaces, etc.)
- Light energy (either sunlight or artificial)
- Kinetic energy (from vibration or mechanical stress)
- RF energy (radio waves)
In its most basic form, the energy harvesting system needs energy waste from one of the sources listed above, plus the three following components:
- Transducer: This is the energy harvester. Typical transducers include:
- Thermoelectric for heat
- Photovoltaic for light
- Piezoelectric for kinetic
- RF for radio frequency
- Energy storage: This will be a battery or supercapacitor
- Power management: This includes electrical energy conditioners, such as regulators and complex control circuits that manage the power, making it suitable for the intended application.
Figure (A) Basic components of an energy harvesting system.
What are the benefits of energy harvesting?
The good news is: There is lots of ambient energy around just waiting to be captured and converted into electricity to power circuits. And there are several compelling reasons why we should do so. Energy harvesting:
- Provides a way to power electronics in places where there is no conventional power source
- Eliminates the need for frequent battery replacement
- Is nearly maintenance-free
- Is environmentally friendly
What are the main applications for energy harvesting technologies?
Energy harvesting is a great way to extend the battery life of remote sensors found in commercial, industrial, and medical applications. For example:
- Equipment monitoring
- Implantable medical devices (e.g., pacemakers) and remote patient monitoring
- Internet of Things
- Remote corrosion monitoring systems (e.g., air pollution, forest fires, etc.)
- Radiofrequency identification (RFID)
- Structural monitoring (e.g., worn out bearings, bridge stress, etc.)
What is the future of energy harvesting?
According to the EE Times:
Energy-saving initiatives are a key driver in the growth of the energy harvesting equipment market. Companies are considering a whole series of tools necessary for energy harvesting to satisfy the growing demand for energy.³
So, what will the future look like as energy harvesting develops?
Following are a few examples of things companies are now investing in:
- The continuing development of super long-lasting, environmentally-safe batteries (or maybe no batteries at all) for smart factories and IoT technologies
- The development of piezoelectric and photoelectric energy harvesting for products such as computer peripherals, electronic bracelets, watches, and surveillance cameras
- Vibrational energy harvesters convert body movement into energy and enables visualization of this energy using light-emitting diodes. Hiroyuko Akinaga of the Nanoelectronics Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan writes:
As an extension of such technical development [described above], there may be a future where artificial intelligence (AI) acquires physical knowledge and sensation by perceptually learning tactile information. The AI implemented in a robot can obtain visual information as an image that contains kinetic information converted into light intensity. In addition, the AI learns as visual information of the motion commanded by the AI itself does not necessarily produce the result intended by control signals because vibrational energy harvesters are independent power supplies.⁴
Scientists feel there is real potential for energy harvesting to become a powerful tool for the sustainable development of our world. Even though the energy being currently harvested is small (measured in mere milliwatts), this converted electricity is able to provide power for embedded systems, wireless sensors, and other low-power applications—and it seems to have a great future!
Figure (A): Image courtesy of harvesting-energy.com
(1) Statista: Internet of Things (IoT) and Non-IoT active device connections worldwide from 2010 to 2025
(2) ONiO: What is Energy Harvesting?
(3) EE Times: Energy Harvesting is the Future of Power Supply
(4) Japanese Journal of Applied Physics: Recent advances and future prospects in energy harvesting technologies.
There is a relatively new Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard, and it has several names: IEEE 802.3bt, 4 Pair PoE, PPOE, UPOE, PoE++. (For this article, we will refer to this technology as PoE++.) This newest standard was ratified by the Institute of Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in September 2018 and has enabled organizations to save money and labor while making installations safer.
PoE Before 802.3bt
Although PoE has been around for almost two decades, it can still be confusing and misunderstood. PoE is a technology that enables network cables to carry electrical power. For example, a standard digital security camera requires two connections: a network connection to communicate and a power connection to deliver electrical power to the device. However, if the security camera is PoE-enabled, it will only need the network connection, as the network cable will also deliver electrical power.
PoE 802.3af (also known as PoE or PoE Type I) was ratified in 2003 and supports a maximum power consumption of 15.4W. PoE 802.3at (also known as PoE+ or PoE Type 2) was approved in 2009 and delivers power up to 30W. These two PoE standards are compatible with devices such as IP phones, simple IP cameras, and indoor wireless access points. However, with new applications such as LED lighting, smart buildings, and the internet of things (IoT), there was a need for higher bandwidth and power supply.
Before the ratification of PoE++ (802.3bt), there were non-standardized methods to figure out this need for more power. According to SecurityInfoWatch, the leading trade association for global security providers:
In these scenarios, there were two options for manufacturers to engineer products:
- Option 1 – Use both PoE and a separate low voltage AC or DC power connection, i.e., PoE and 24VAC. This would enable the PoE to power the PTZ camera, while the 24VAC would power the heater/blower or the infrared LEDs.
- Use a non-standard PoE called “Hi-PoE” or “PoE++” that delivers up to 60W of power. Some would think that this is the same as 802.3bt Type 3; however, it is not.¹
It is important to note that neither of these options is compatible with standardized equipment.
The Latest Standard of PoE
IEEE 802.3bt (PoE++) introduces two new Types of PoE:
- PoE Type 3 enables two or all four twisted pairs in a copper cable to supply a maximum power of 60W.
- PoE Type 4 enables all four twisted pairs in an Ethernet cable to supply a maximum power of 100W.
What IEEE 802.3bt Brings to the Table
PoE++ allows the transfer of as much as 71W to a powered device (PD) with a maximum cable length of 100m (328 ft.). This increased power is delivered across all four twisted pairs. PoE++ devices offer high power and high speed at the same time.
PoE++ devices currently run smart buildings, healthcare facilities, and smart offices. To a lesser extent, PoE++ is even being used in smart homes. However, this power technology is proliferating in a few “niche” areas.
Industrial automation is growing rapidly and is driving many changes in networking as a whole. Manufacturers are demanding more responsive systems that cut costs and help push efficiency to the max.
PoE++’s higher wattage is perfect for massive sensors and the sophisticated controllers found on every factory floor. PoE++ powers workstations and human-machine interfaces (HMIs). It gives you the freedom to design the physical layout: power lines do not have to be run, and HMIs can be installed in previously considered inaccessible areas. Also, with PoE++, you have the option of splitting its power so more devices can be run by a single industrial Ethernet switch.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is no longer an emerging technology; it is generating large-scale data in many industries. In fact, there were 8.74 billion connected IoT devices worldwide as of 2020, and another 1.33 billion will be added by the end of this year, with a forecast of 25.4 billion by 2030.² PoE++ is an exciting power solution for a large portion of these billions of devices. PoE++ can power small-scale devices more cheaply. For example, point of sale (POS) devices are becoming more sophisticated and need more bandwidth and higher power. In many businesses, iPads and other such devices are taking over POS duties, and the power usage is much greater than in the past. PoE++ can meet these demands by connecting multiple POS devices to a single PoE++ switch. And, of course, it also can supply enough juice for extremely power-hungry devices such as laptops and flat screens.
Security cameras are among the key devices that pushed PoE into the spotlight several years ago. The fact that PoE could provide power and communication for a camera over a single cable was genuinely revolutionary.
Now, with the higher power provided by PoE++, not just cameras can be powered but entire security systems: cameras, security controllers, ID scanners, and even door lock motors. It can do this by routing through a master control node at any point of entry, such as a smart doorbell.
The benefits of PoE are many; it is flexible, safe, reliable, scalable, and it is quick to install and saves you money.
Versa Technology offers a broad range of PoE networking equipment, including switches, splitters, injectors, extenders, and hubs.
We can help you! Contact us today!
1 SecurityInfoWatch.com: Harness the Latest PoE standard
2 Statista: Number of Internet of Things (IoT) Connected Devices Worldwide from 2019 to 2020
Further Reading Opportunities
An enterprise network is the foundation of any contemporary midsize to large organization. This complex infrastructure is difficult and expensive to build, maintain, manage, and secure—and is vital to smooth-running business operations. Therefore, it is crucial to know what an enterprise network is, what it consists of, and what it will look like in the future.
An enterprise network is an enterprise’s communications backbone that helps connect computers and related devices across departments and workgroup networks, facilitating insight and data accessibility. An enterprise network reduces communication protocols, facilitating system and device interoperability, as well as improved internal and external enterprise data management.¹
What does an enterprise network consist of?
An enterprise network consists of:
An endpoint is a remote computing device that can communicate with the network it is connected to. Examples of endpoints are as follows:
- Desktop computers
- Internet of things (IoT) devices
2) Network Devices
A network device (also called network hardware) is a physical apparatus required to obtain interaction/communication between hardware on a computer network. Here is a list of common network devices that will be found in any enterprise network:
- Access Point
3) Communication protocols
Communication protocols are a set of digital message formats and rules needed to exchange messages in or between computing systems. Some of the most popular communication protocols are:
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
- Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
- User Datagram Protocol (DP)
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
- Post Office Protocol (POP3)
- Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)
- Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
4) Local Area Networks (LANs)
A LAN is an assemblage of connected devices in one physical location, such as a building, office, or home. A LAN can be large or small but must be contained in one finite area.
5) Wide Area Networks (WANs)
In its most simple form, a WAN is a collection of LANs that communicate with each other—in other words; it is a network of networks. Most enterprise networks have WANs that stretch over wide geographical distances, even to other continents. The internet is the largest WAN in the world.
In addition to those listed above, an enterprise network can incorporate numerous other components that enable communication or information exchange among an organization’s users, branches, or partners. A single organization’s enterprise network can easily have hundreds or thousands (or more) of endpoints running different operating systems and applications.
6) Cloud Networking
Most enterprise networks receive services via both on-site servers and off-site cloud networks. Techopedia describes cloud networking as follows:
It [cloud networking] entails shifting of some or all network operations onto a cloud-based network. The network resources are hosted on a public, private, or hybrid cloud platform. Network resources can be virtual routers, bandwidth, virtual firewall, any network management software, and more.²
The Benefits of an Enterprise Network
The benefits of an enterprise network are numerous and cannot be overemphasized. An enterprise network:
- Scans incoming data to detect viruses and malware, thus increasing security.
- Provides a high level of control over corporate resources (i.e., reduced maintenance and operational costs).
- Facilitates and speeds up routine operation, therefore increasing productivity.
- Provides virtualization that helps handle massive data sets.
- Allows multiple people to collaborate on a project remotely and simultaneously.
- Offers improved Quality of Service (QoS) by providing enhanced voice quality, call routing, and network management.
- Can quickly adapt to changing needs such as organizational growth, scaling, and the launch of new services.
- Provides seamless connectivity between users and the cloud.
Enterprise Network Trends
Enterprise networks are evolving steadily in 2021. According to Steve Glasgow, a Director at the global IT service management company, Wavestone:
In the area of networks and telecoms. There are some significant emerging solutions to address evolving business challenges. Many of these are interrelated, and organizations should build a multi-year strategy and supporting roadmap to assess and exploit these capabilities.³
Let’s take a look at enterprise network trends and innovations:
Leading research and advisory company, Gartner, defines SASE (pronounced “sassy”) as follows:
Secure access service edge (SASE) is a security framework prescribing the conversions of security and network connectivity technologies into a single cloud-delivered platform to enable secure and fast cloud transformation. SASE’s convergence of networking and network security meets the challenges of digital business transformation, edge computing, and workforce mobility.⁴
In short, SASE architecture provides an additional layer of security for edge network technologies.
Complex networks need automation, and medium to large enterprises are increasingly using these technologies. Automation covers many aspects such as:
- Application programming interfaces (APIs)
- Event correlation
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
Enterprises are migrating to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN). SD-WAN is a virtual WAN infrastructure that allows organizations to use any combination of transport services such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), long-term evolution (LTE), and broadband internet to securely and intelligently direct data traffic across the WAN.
Organizations are beginning to take advantage of the new 5G technology. 5G connectivity offers remarkably improved user experiences and high data transmission rates.
WiFi 6 and 6e
WiFi 6 and 6e standards are approximately 30 percent faster than WiFi 5. Speed is king, and this technology is hot. A WiFi industry study reports that by 2025, WiFi 6 alone will generate more than USD 180 million of US revenue.⁵
Managed Network Services
Many organizations are beginning to use new network service delivery models, like Networking as a Service (NaaS), which enable them to employ advanced enterprise networking strategies via a subscription rather than buying them outright.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and ML are cutting-edge technologies increasingly being used to enhance the visibility and control of an enterprise network.
Zero Trust Network Access
New technologies such as Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) are gaining ground. This technology greatly enhances network security.
Gartner defines ZTNA as follows:
ZTNA is a product or service that creates an identity-and context-based, logical access boundary around an application or set of applications. The applications are hidden from discovery, and access is restricted via a trust broker to a set of named entities.⁶
To Sum Up
Every enterprise needs to fashion a unique networking solution that will handle its particular workflow, processes, customer demands, logistics, etc. Enterprise networks will increase efficiency, control resources, expand productivity, and lower costs. The right kind of networking is essential to an organization’s growth and success.
1 Techopedia: Enterprise Network
2 Techopedia: What is Cloud Networking?
3 Wavestone: 8 Key Trends for Enterprise Networks in 2021
4 McAfee: What is Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)?
5 WiFiForward: Assessing the Economic Value of Unlicensed Use in the 5.9 GHz and 6 GHz Bands
6 Gartner: Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
Imagine this: You have just spent the morning setting up your home network. You have used all the latest Wi-Fi hardware and you have a 100Mbps connection. Pleased with yourself, you decide to go to your bedroom to relax and stream a movie—then the buffering begins. You call your ISP provider and confirm that everything checks out.
So, what’s the deal?
Chances are you need a mesh Wi-Fi system.
What is mesh Wi-Fi?
A mesh Wi-Fi (also called Whole Home Wi-Fi) system consists of a main router that connects directly to a modem, together with one or more satellite modules (nodes) that are placed strategically around a house (or an office) to blanket it with Wi-Fi. These are all part of a single wireless network and share the same Service Set IDentifier (SSID) and password.
In short, a mesh Wi-Fi system extends a wireless router signal to anywhere within a home or office to ensure internet access.
Who needs mesh Wi-Fi?
Mesh Wi-Fi is handy for those who work or live in surroundings that:
- Are larger than 3,000 square feet
- Have unusually shaped floor plans (like Ls)
- Have thick, brick, or metal internal walls
- Have rooms or areas that do not have electrical service
All of the situations listed above (and others) can lead to faulty internet connectivity that interferes with reliable service to computers, tablets, and smartphones.
How does mesh Wi-Fi work?
This technology is pretty straightforward.
A mesh router is different from a traditional Wi-Fi router in that it uses two or more “satellite” routers to deliver wireless coverage. These routers all work together to provide coverage and, as mentioned above, share the same network and SSID.
A mesh router system contains two or more components that act as nodes (the more nodes, the better the coverage). Depending on which router brand is used, one node is assigned the role of the primary router, with all the other nodes acting as satellites—OR—all the routers might be completely interchangeable.
One unit must be plugged into the internet modem or router with either type, while all remaining satellites are placed around the house or office to enable good coverage. The positioning of the satellite routers is essential. They must be put close enough together to communicate but far enough apart to be able to spread the total coverage.
Why should I consider mesh Wi-Fi?
Here are the main advantages of using mesh Wi-Fi:
Homes and offices are often vulnerable to dead zones where there is not enough (or even no) wireless service for internet-connected devices to work correctly.
Should this condition exist, you can lose your Wi-Fi signal at any time—perhaps in the middle of a download or an app update. Mesh Wi-Fi puts an end to this problem by taking your router’s original wireless signal and rebroadcasting it at its original strength.
Your router’s signal will have a range of about 100 feet. However, the mesh Wi-Fi satellites that you place throughout the space will reproduce the wireless signal to cover the whole area.
It needs to be emphasized that mesh Wi-Fi satellites are not separate networks—they rebroadcast the original Wi-Fi signal, which means they connect to only one network and provide coverage throughout the entire building. And it gets even better because, with mesh Wi-Fi, there is coverage outside the building too.
Image Source: linksys.com
2. Speed Consistency
With a traditional Wi-Fi router, the Wi-Fi signal weakens as it travels further from the router, and you also lose speed as the signal weakens. If you live in a small house—say, 1,200 square feet—you may not notice anything. However, if your home is larger—like 3,000 square feet—the speed difference between your living room and bedroom could be significant. For example, you may be able to stream Netflix just fine in your living room, but it will not even load in your bedroom. This type of speed variation is frustrating!
This is where mesh Wi-Fi shines. With mesh Wi-Fi satellites strategically positioned throughout the entire house, you will have a solid wireless signal with consistent speed. If you choose, you can put a satellite in every room in your home, but only one or two satellites are necessary for most people.
When it comes to businesses, you will probably want more satellites—maybe even up to a dozen—as you will want a satellite in conference rooms, IT hotspots, and any remote offices in the building.
3. Network Management
Network management consists of things like fixing, improving and maintaining a network. This process usually requires specialized knowledge of and on-demand access to the wireless network. However, many mesh routers have built-in management tools, such as app integration that allows control of all aspects of the network without having to log into a web-based console. You can even use this app to control the network remotely.
Image Source: asus.com
One of the biggest concerns that users have is: If I boost up my internet service, will strangers be able to use it without my permission?
Because of the networking features mentioned above, along with the manual control you have over your hardware, this almost never happens. In the unlikely event that it does happen, you can change your network settings, kick off every device from your Wi-Fi, change the password, and start again. Because of these types of capabilities, mesh Wi-Fi is one of the most secure wireless networking techniques on the market.
Are there some disadvantages when it comes to mesh Wi-Fi systems?
With every popular technology comes a few disadvantages; this is also true of mesh Wi-Fi. Here are a couple of things to consider:
- Mesh routers are more expensive than traditional single-unit routers. However, into this equation goes the fact that this is a one-time purchase which will last for years.
- You will have to deal with extra hardware. Each satellite will need a place to “live” (e.g., a table or shelf). These devices are not easily hidden from sight.
Mesh Wi-Fi is reliable, fast, secure, and can be managed and maintained easily. While most traditional routers are large, awkward, and have cables to contend with, mesh Wi-Fi satellites have been designed to have a much smaller footprint. They can be left out to blend with your home or office decor. If you are having problems with your wireless coverage, a mesh Wi-Fi system just might be a good solution.
When you hear the name Elon Musk, what things come to mind?
Perhaps you think of things like:
- His electric car company Tesla
- His foray into space exploration via SpaceX
- His habit of stirring up controversy on social media
- The fact that he smoked weed on a filmed podcast with comedian Joe Rogan (he was in California at the time and it was legal)
- That he gave one of his children the curious name of X AE A-12
- That he makes quirky comments like, “I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.”
- That as of January, he had a net worth of $185 billion and was briefly declared the richest person in the world
Or perhaps something else might come to mind: a venture called Starlink.
What is Starlink?
Technically a division of SpaceX, Starlink is the company’s growing network of orbital satellites launched into low Earth orbit (LEO) to provide high-speed, low-latency, and cost-effective internet access to anyone anywhere on the planet.
The development of Starlink began in 2015, with the first satellites launched in 2018. In January 2021, SpaceX launched 60 satellites into orbit from Kennedy Space Center. Another four were launched in February, bringing the total number to nearly 1300, which is about one-fourth of all active satellites in space at this time.
The plan is to ultimately have 12,000 satellites, 8,000 of which will orbit at 500km (approximately 311 miles) above Earth, with the remaining 4,000 orbiting at 1200km (around 746 miles).
How does Starlink work?
According to Techradar:
All you would need to use Starlink is a $200 pizza box-sized receiver. Each satellite will talk to four others using lasers as they constantly orbit Earth, together creating a web of Ku-band and Ka-band broadband connectivity as fast as the speed of light that surrounds the planet at all times and for all locations.
In order to beam connectivity to the surface, a massive network of ground-based stations will also be necessary. So although 12,000 satellites sound like a lot, it’s only a fraction of the infrastructure that SpaceX will have to construct.¹
This “space internet” is particularly beneficial for consumers who live in rural areas and other places in the world that do not have high-speed broadband. The Starlink website states:
Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge. Unbounded by traditional ground infrastructures, Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable.²
The only hardware needed for a Starlink connection is a satellite dish and a router. The satellite dish receives the signal from the satellite and passes it onto the router. Starlink offers an app for IOS and Android that helps customers choose the best location to place the satellite dish.
Presently, Starlink is being beta tested in the United States and Canada (between 44 and 53 degrees North latitude) and has approximately 10,000 customers. It is not designed for densely populated areas but rather for rural areas, including Tribal lands in the U.S.
Why does Starlink matter?
GSMA Connected Society³ estimates that 3.8 billion people use the internet today, which leaves 4.2 billion people who do not use the internet for one reason or another. Seven percent of that figure (approximately 600 million people) cannot use the internet because they live in rural and remote areas that either have no internet access or are grossly underserved. In the future, Starlink may become one of the keys to giving these isolated populations access to the world through the internet.
How fast is Starlink’s internet service?
Currently, Starlink users experience data speeds from 50 to 150Mbps with latency speeds between 20 and 40 ms. However, Musk has a goal to double this download speed to 300Mbps by the close of 2021. And there are long-term goals to reach speeds of 1Gbps and then 10Gbps as more satellites launch into orbit.
But is fiber faster?
Internet-delivered by ground-laid fiber-optic cable indeed offers speeds that are much faster than those supplied by satellite at present. However, installing the infrastructure necessary for ground-based internet to people’s homes is a long and labor-intensive process. Of course, we are not saying that shooting satellites 300-plus miles above the earth’s surface is not labor-intensive, but it just could be the internet solution for underserved communities. And we are talking about Elon Musk, the founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX, the only company on the planet that has a landable, reusable rocket capable of delivering satellite after satellite into orbit.
Some Frequently Asked Questions About Starlink
What does Starlink cost?
An initial one-time payment of $499.00 is required to cover the cost of the satellite dish and Wi-Fi router; from there, you pay a monthly service fee of $99.00.
Where are Starlink services available?
At this juncture, Starlink services are only available in select areas: Northwest U.S. and adjacent parts of Canada (between 44 and 53 degrees North latitude), parts of the United Kingdom, and parts of Texas (available in 2021). Musk has stated he expects to have worldwide access to Starlink by 2022.
All potential customers are handled on a first-come, first-served basis, and some preorders can take up to six months.
Can I use Starlink if I live in a city or a suburb?
Probably not. SpaceX is firmly committed to bringing internet access to areas of the world with slow or no internet access. There is no reason for Starlink to try to compete with major ground-based internet service providers with monthly service fees as low as $50.00 a month.
Can bad weather affect my Starlink internet service?
Unfortunately, rain, snow, and wind can affect satellite services. Although Starlink’s satellite dish is equipped with a heater to melt snow, it can do little about snow build-up. Rain and winds can also bring about slower speed or even service interruptions.
Can I game on Starlink?
Yes. There may be some lag as your connection hops from one satellite to another, but as a whole, users report a satisfying gaming experience with Starlink.
Will I own my Starlink satellite dish?
Yes. However, if returned within 30 days, you will receive a full refund.
Is the Starlink satellite dish easy to install?
Users report that set up takes about five minutes and requires no technical help. Please note: it is important to mount the dish with a clear view of the sky and at the highest and safest level possible.
Starlink is cutting-edge and ambitious, but it is not the only “space internet” in town. This arena is getting increased attention in 2021. London-based OneWeb—supported by Intelsat, Virgin, Qualcomm, SoftBank, and Hughes Network Systems—is poised to launch 640 satellites, the first of which were launched this February. Also joining the scene is Amazon’s “Project Kulper,” which positions itself for sometime after 2021.
SpaceX’s Starlink is progressing quickly but is by no means alone.
¹ Techradar: Everything You Need to Know About SpaceX’s Starlink and “Space Internet”
³ GSMA Connected Society: The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2020
Ethernet is a Local Area Network (LAN) technology that connects network devices (such as computers, printers, etc.) via Ethernet switches and routers. Industrial Ethernet is a further development of Ethernet and is a bit more complicated. This technology applies Ethernet abilities to automation and control systems used in industrial manufacturing. It has recently surpassed traditional Fieldbus architectures to become the foremost connection protocol in factories around the world.
Industrial communication happens on three levels—the routing level, the control level, and the sensor level. Each level requires different amounts and types of information transfer, collision detection, and determinism (determining in advance the route between any two nodes). Industrial Ethernet has approximately 20 protocols that are oriented to IEEE 802.3 standards. In this article, we will discuss the four most important protocols.
The Four Major Protocols in Industrial Ethernet
1) Modbus TCP/IP
Modbus TCP/IP (Transmission Control/Protocol and Internet Protocol) was the first industrial Ethernet protocol to be launched and is a variation of the Modbus family of communication protocols that were developed for the supervision and control of automated equipment. This protocol transfers discrete data between control devices using a simple master-slave communication. With this type of transmission, the “slave” node cannot transfer data until it has been commanded to do so by the “master” node. This protocol is not considered to be real-time.
Ethernet for Control Automation Technology (EtherCAT) is a protocol that provides power and flexibility to industrial automation, motion control, real-time control systems, and data acquisition systems. Introduced in 2003, EtherCAT offers real-time communication using the master/slave configuration mentioned above. This protocol increases speed in two ways:
- There is only one device sending data
- By using a technique called “processing on the fly,” which is when a “slave” node extracts only the information it needs from a data packet and sends the data downstream simultaneously
EtherNet/IP (Ethernet Industrial Protocol) was introduced in 2000 and has become one of the most commonly used application-layer industrial Ethernet protocols and is supported by the Open Device Vendors Association (ODVA). This protocol defines devices on a network as a series of objects. It is the only industrial Ethernet protocol based entirely on Ethernet standards. Because EtherNet/IP uses standard Ethernet physical, data, link, network, and transport layers and uses standard managed Ethernet switches, it can support an unlimited amount of nodes. However, to support real-time communication and avoid latency, a limited range is required.
PROFINET (Process Field Net) is a protocol used to exchange data between controllers and devices. Examples of controllers are Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Distributed Control Systems (DCSs), and Programmable Automation Systems (DDCSs). Examples of devices are Input and Output (I/O) blocks, vision systems, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) readers, drives, process instruments, and even other controllers. PROFINET is deterministic and exchanges data in a predefined arrangement. With this protocol, devices can be changed from one vendor to another without user interaction.
Industrial Ethernet Networks Compared to Commercial Ethernet LANs
Industrial Ethernet networks, when compared to commercial Ethernet LANs, have a few key differences.
Industrial Ethernet’s need for speed is much lower than the gigabit (and higher) bandwidth required by a LAN. Industrial Ethernet speeds range from 10 Mbps to one gigabit; however, the most popular rate is 100 Mbps. This is because the amount of bandwidth needed to send control and automation data in an industrial setting is a fraction of what is required to download a video on a LAN, for instance.
Specific Operation Performance
Industrial Ethernet networks have protocols that ensure specific manufacturing data is sent and received at the exact time the information is needed to perform a particular task. It could spell disaster if an automated process difficulty had to wait for an employee to notice the problem and then push a button to correct it. This type of protocol is not as crucial in an office network setting. For example, if a user loses a website, they just need to push the refresh button to restore it. There just are not the types of automation functions in an office that, if comprised, could lead to injury or death as they can on the factory floor.
Commercial Ethernet is designed for a basic level of use, while industrial Ethernet is multi-leveled and suited for heavy-duty factory processes including noise, dirt, extreme temperatures, etc. Connectors used in industrial settings have heavier lock mechanisms and are sealed. Higher quality jacketing is required for all cabling.
Commercial Ethernet is not deterministic on its own. However, determinism is crucial on the factory floor. In a production process, data packets must be sent and received at specific times—and there must be a guarantee that the data is delivered each time. The loss or delay of data between industrial equipment can lead to disaster. This real-time information transfer is one of the primary considerations for choosing a manufacturer’s Ethernet solution.
Industrial Ethernet and Fieldbuses
Although Industrial Ethernet has a high quantity of users, there is still significant use of fieldbuses. Fieldbuses are well suited for production processes where cyclic I/O data transfer is crucial. In contrast, Industrial Ethernet is used where performance and clock synchronicity matter. Here are some of the advantages of Industrial Ethernet over fieldbuses:
- The transfer of IT and real-time data takes place simultaneously
- The network can be expanded by the cascading of switches
- Transfers a large amount of data
- All users can access buses at the same time
- It has an extensive address range which allows the number of users to be almost limitless
- Different transfer media (e.g., cable, radio, light conductors) can be combined
The future for Industrial Ethernet is bright. Research is making steady advances and is currently focusing on improving overall performance and clock synchronicity. Industrial Ethernet is an invaluable technology that gives users:
- Better integration of plant and corporate networks
- Real-time visibility of production processes
- The ability to run multiple control regimens on a single network (e.g., process, motion, safety)
- Reduction of security risks on the industrial network
- Easily employed management capabilities.
Versa Technology offers a wide range of high performing and heavy duty Industrial PoE switches that are perfect for large-scale enterprise projects such as transportation facilities, public outdoor spaces, large structures and/or government type facilities.
In case you haven’t heard, we are in the midst of a global semiconductor shortage.
The first monolithic integrated circuit (IC) chip was invented sixty-two years ago by Robert Noyle at Fairchild Semiconductor. This small electrical “gadget” has since become a critical component for everything from smartphones and computers to vehicles and appliances.
What Is a Chip?
Techopedia defines a “chip” as follows:
In electronics, a chip is comprised of semiconductor material cut from a larger wafer of material that is only a few millimeters on one side. On this chip, a transistor or integrated circuit may be etched but only occupy one-thousandth of an inch of the chip’s surface.
The terms chip, microchip, integrated circuit (IC) and silicon chip are synonymous.¹
A single chip that measures a mere 1/16 square inch (with a thickness of 1/30 square inch) can contain anywhere from a few to thousands of transistors. Larger chips that are about the size of a postage stamp can contain millions of transistors.
How can anything so tiny be causing such a big stir?
The Extent of the Problem
Lead times for chips have been extended significantly. This means that the amount of time between when a chip is ordered and the order is filled has increased. According to Bloomberg, lead times for Broadcom, Inc.—a leading barometer for the semiconductor industry—have skyrocketed from 12.2 weeks in February 2020 to 22.2 weeks in February 2021. The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Hock Tan, released a statement saying his company is sold out for the rest of the year.²
When categorized by functionality, there are four types of chips: standard chip, memory chips, microprocessors, and complex systems-on-a-chip (SoCs). Because of the smartphone and computing power boom over the last ten years, demand for all types of chips has grown steadily. In addition, numerous machines that have been traditionally mechanical have become smarter and use many more chips than ever before. A good example of this is the automotive industry. Deloitte states that in the year 2000, automotive electronics comprised 18 percent of the total cost of car; in 2020 that percentage increased to 40 percent. And they project by 2030 that 45 percent of the cost of a car will be due to its electronics.³
Industry experts report that there is a particular shortage of 200 millimeter wafers which are used to make lower-end chips. This shortage then affects the supply of power management chips and display ICs that are required in the automatic and consumer electronics industries. As an end result, big name vehicles such as the Ford F-150, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Mercedes-Benz C-class production lines have been either slowed down or temporarily paused. And that is why popular devices such as Playstation and Xbox are becoming scarce in stores.
So, Why Don’t They Just Make More Chips?
As semiconductors can be damaged by things like temperature spikes, static electricity, and even specks of dust, they must be built in highly controlled fabrication plants (called “fabs”). Big name U.S. companies like Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Apple design semiconductors but they do not manufacture them.
So, where are they made?
It is estimated that as much as 91 percent of chip manufacturing happens in Asia. In fact, there are only four semiconductor companies that make the vast majority of the world’s electronic chips: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (Taiwan), Samsung Electronics Company (South Korea), Globalfoundries, Inc. (United Arab Emirates), and United Microelectronics Corporation (Taiwan).
It is not as simple as building another semiconductor fab and hiring workers. Chip fabs cost billions of dollars and at least two to five years to construct. It is important to note that the U.S. is trying to gain more chip independence. To this end, Intel Corporation just recently unveiled plans for a new $20 billion fab of its own.
Intel Fab in Hillsboro, Oregon (Credit: Intel Corporation)
Bottlenecks exist in other parts of the chip supply chain too. Bloomberg states:
The Netherlands-based ASML Holding NV has a virtual monopoly on advanced photolithography equipment required to print patterns of cutting-edge chips onto the wafer. Companies from Japan, such as Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., dominate the market for chemicals used in semiconductor manufacturing. And manufacturing cannot start in the first place without access to electronic design automation software, a segment led by the U.S.’s Cadence Design Systems, Inc. and Synopsys, Inc.⁴’
Here’s How the Pandemic Fits into the Semiconductor Shortage
At the beginning of the pandemic, most economists predicted that consumer spending would drop off because people were losing their jobs. As a result, auto companies showed down production, which means they ordered fewer chips. However, instead of curtailing all non essential spending as predicted, consumers who were stuck at home with a bunch of free time on their hands, poured the money they would have spent on movie tickets, dining out, vacations, etc. into TVs, computers, and video game systems. With this increased demand for their goods, electronics companies purchased extra chips and beefed up their production to meet this increased demand. Then, auto companies realized that in spite of the pandemic, people still wanted to buy cars—but it was too late! The chips were gone and lead time for many were at a year or more.
The Perfect Storm
There are many other factors that have played into this perfect storm of events. According to The Washington Post:
New 5G phones use a lot more computer chips than previous generations of handsets. About a quarter of all phones sold in 2020 were 5G-ready, so the industry suddenly put a massive new strain on chip production, said Matt Bryson, a semiconductor company analyst with Wedbush Securities. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China also had an impact. About 10 percent of the world’s chip production comes from SMIC, a semiconductor company that’s partially owned by the Chinese government. In 2020, the U.S. government restricted American companies from selling to SMIC, citing its ties to the Chinese military. Even the demand for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin is a factor. Warehouses full of computers used to run the extremely complicated calculations that made cryptocurrencies possible are chewing up more and more computer chips each year.
This chip shortage has made it extremely clear that it is essential to be alert, flexible, and resilient in the face of something as complex and consequential as supply chains.
There is hope. President Biden has signed an executive order calling for the review of supply chains for critical products.
And there is help from Taiwan, too. According to Reuters:
Andrew Hou, Acer’s president for Pan-Asian Pacific Operations, told reporters in Taipei that since the problem first became apparent in the fourth quarter of last year, the supply chain has “jumped into action” as suppliers worked to address the situation.
Hou said he expected better supplies in the second quarter compared with the first quarter of this year, and the situation in the second half will be better than the second quarter.
“That’s what we are seeing at the moment,” he added.⁶
The bottom line is this: Supplies of semiconductor chips will be scarce at least through the end of the year. Our advice to you is to anticipate your needs and order supplies as early as possible to lessen the shortages’ impact on you.
1 Techopedia: Chip
2 Bloomberg; How a Chip Shortage Snarled Everything From Phones to Cars
3 Deloitte: Semiconductors—The Next Wave (April 2019)
4 Bloomberg: How a Chip Shortage Snarled Everything From Phones to Cars
5 The Washington Post: What you need to know about the global chip shortage
6 Reuters: Taiwan’s Acer sees global chip shortage gradually easing
As city populations increase every year, they get crowded, and resources are stretched to their limits. Today’s cities must evolve to meet the needs of their residents. Here are some interesting statistics:
- In 2020, 56 percent of the global population lived in cities.¹
- In the same year, 83.6 percent of North American countries’ populations lived in cities.¹
- The United Nations predicts that 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050.²
Cities must deal with the often overwhelming problems of social and economic imbalance among their citizens. One of the most viable ways to increase a city’s effectiveness and efficiency is through technology.
What is a smart city?
Let’s start with the digi.city definition:
Smart Cities use connected technology and data to (1) improve the efficiency of city service delivery, (2) enhance quality of life for all, (3) increase equity and prosperity for residents and businesses.³
City management is complex. The goal needs to be the improvement of the quality of life for its citizens. Each individual must be offered adequate resources to be self-sufficient in their environment in a way that consumes the least amount of resources. This is a tall order.
A smart city uses Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to create, install, and promote practices that address these urban challenges. Citizens are encouraged to engage with smart city ecosystems that improve things like energy distribution, trash collection, traffic congestion, and even air quality using the Internet of Things (IoT). Here are some examples:
- Connected traffic lights: Sensors send data to the traffic lights that inform them of real-time traffic conditions.
- Connected cars: Communication with parking meters and electrical vehicle (EV) charging docks that advise drivers on available spots.
- Smart garbage cans: Can automatically send data to waste management companies to pick-up refuse as needed.
- Smartphones: Can become a mobile driver’s license or ID card (digital credentials) to simplify city/government services access.
What are the benefits of a smart city?
There are many benefits when cities use smart technology, and many are vigorously engaging in these upgrades as we speak. According to Statista, technology spending on smart city initiatives worldwide will increase from 81 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 to 189.5 billion in 2023.⁴
Following are ten of the most significant benefits of the use of smart technology by cities:
1) Decision-Making Based on Data
Big data and connected devices enable cities to access more information than ever before. With this plethora of data, city planners can glean invaluable, real-time metrics that give them insights to make the best decisions possible.
This type of technology provides data to help identify and staff police in high-risk areas, forecast and plan for population growth and citywide expansion, identify citizen interests, concerns, needs, etc.
2) Increased Citizen/Government Interaction
Things like collaboration tools, intuitive websites, mobile apps, self-service portals, and online accounts enable residents to engage with their city government and its services in a quick, user-friendly way.
The ability for citizen access to government data, interactive maps, government performance dashboards, city budget transparency, live-streamed city hall meetings, and a healthy city media presence all make a city attractive to live in and help its citizens to trust city officials.
3) Community Safety
Simply put: A smart city is a safer place to live. Technology such as plate recognition, gunshot detectors, connected crime centers, next-generation 911, and police body cameras give law enforcement an advantage.
Here is another example: In 2016, the city of San Diego invested in smart streetlight technology. In addition to informing the town of things like traffic flow and pedestrian crossings, they found that the LED lighting helped them maintain public safety. According to LT. Jeffrey Jordan, Chief’s Office/Special Projects of the San Diego Police Department:
We use technology as a means of enhancing investigations, preventing crime, and interacting with community members to ensure their safety. We have only 1800 officers for a city of 1.3 million people spread out over 300 square miles. We can’t be everywhere all the time. But we can use the data being collected by smart streetlights to help provide evidence for violent crime investigations and fatal or near-fatal car collisions.⁵
4) Lessens Environmental Impact
Cities need to deal with environmental issues such as greenhouse gasses, ocean and water debris, and trash on highways and streets. Smart cities encourage the construction of energy-efficient buildings, the employment of air quality sensors and renewable energy sources to decrease their ecological footprint.
For instance, medical problems that stem from pollution kill millions of people every year. Deploying air quality sensors around a city can help track peak times of low air quality, identify the causes of pollution, and provide information to make sound action plans.
5) Transportation Improvement
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) have the potential to enhance travel through a city significantly. ITS includes:
- Public Transportation Management: Provides automation and planning that encourages travel throughout a city and offers quick responses to schedule deviations or emergencies, ensuring the safety of the travelers.
- Route Information: Provides easy route scheduling, real-time information about traffic conditions, travel time, alternative routes, toll fares, and parking availability.
- Safety Control: Provides assessment of driving capabilities, road conditions, and vehicle performance. Advanced sensors assist drivers during poor visibility due to weather conditions or night driving.
- Electronic Payment System: One single electronic payment can buy tickets for different transportation modes: buses, metros, trains, etc.
6) Digital Equity
To ensure each citizen has access to a smart city’s technology, they must take steps toward providing digital equity. Adopting citywide public Wi-Fi hotspots needs to be strategically placed throughout a city to ensure internet services are available to everyone. Cities such as Portland, OR, Philadelphia, Austin, TX, Chattanooga, and San Jose, CA have all adopted smart technologies with built-in digital equity considerations.
7) Opportunities for Economic Growth
According to a white paper authored by ABI Research:
The impact of smart city technologies on economic development and gross domestic product (GDP) growth, in particular, will materialize according to three dimensions or phases:
- Open Data Policies: Incremental GDP of close to US$1 trillion over the next decade
- Public Investments Multiplier Effect: Incremental GDP of US$10 trillion over the next decade
- Structural Smart Urban Economy Growth: Recurring, sustainable growth by 2.8% by 2026; (US$) 10 trillion GDP generated in the next 10 years.⁶
These statistics indicate that when cities innovate and engage in smart technologies, the result is significant GDP growth expansion. Large private enterprises are teaming up with city governments and investing millions of dollars in smart city infrastructure and initiatives—and intelligent cities attract new residents and businesses.
8) Efficient Public Utilities
Smart water sensors and intelligent electric grids reduce water and electricity waste, as well as damages. An example comes from Virginia Beach, which has deployed 40 smart water sensors that can predict floods from rain or storm surges for up to 36 hours in advance.
9) Infrastructure Improvement
Smart technology provides cities with analytics that predict and identify infrastructure areas that require repair or replacement before a complete failure occurs. Intelligent sensors send data that identifies structural changes in buildings and bridges and send messages that prompt city personnel of inspection or maintenance needs. This not only saves tax dollars but prevents injury or death.
10) Positive Employee Engagement
When cities use smart technologies such as those discussed above, they can free employees from many forms of day-to-day manual labor. With the ability to streamline these tedious processes, smart city employees can reach their full potential while providing excellent, upgraded services.
Wondering about how smart cities are powered? Check out this blog.
1 World Economic Forum: How has the world’s urban population changed from 1950 to today?
2 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs: 68% of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN
3 digi.city: Definitions: What is a smart city?
4 Statista: Technology spending on smart city initiatives worldwide from 2018 to 2023
5 Security Infowatch.com: Public Safety is at the Heart of the Smart City Movement
6 ABI Research: Role of Smart Cities for Economic Development
One of the most common questions regarding Ethernet cabling is: What type of cabling should I choose? There is much confusion on this topic. When choosing the right cabling solution for your particular network infrastructure, you need to know the difference between the different cable categories. The purpose of this article is to help you determine which type of Ethernet cabling suits your needs.
All three cable types use an RJ45 end, similar to a telephone jack, only slightly wider. This means that the cables simply plug into the same Ethernet jack on your computers, routers, and switches. However, each cable category option has quite different specifications. More about that later. First, let’s compare the costs of these three cable types.
What about cost?
Probably the most significant difference between Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6A cabling is the price, and price is often the biggest consideration when deciding which Ethernet cabling to purchase. Cat5e is the least expensive of the three. Cat6 is approximately 30 percent more costly than Cat5e, while Cat6A is in the range of 30 percent more expensive than Cat6. This means, if your Cat5e cabling job costs $10,000, then Cat6 cabling for the same job will cost $13,000, and Cat6A will cost $16,900.
There are a couple of other cost considerations when purchasing Ethernet cabling:
- Plenum costs about 30 percent more than non-plenum.
- Shielded cable (STP) is roughly 30 to 40 percent more expensive than unshielded cabling (UTP).
Of course, price is not the only factor to consider when choosing what category of Ethernet cabling to buy. Let’s break down each type of cabling to help you determine which is the best option for your network, for now, and for the future.
Category 5e is a high-speed enhanced version of legacy Cat5 cables and has been in use for 20 years. Cat5e cables were the first to deliver one Gigabit of network speed, which in most expert’s opinion is the least amount of speed that should be considered. If most of your network is cloud-based, Cat5e cabling may be sufficient—for the present. Cat 5e cables are typically:
- Made up of 24-gauge twisted pair wires
- Produces one Gigabit of network speed
- Offers Ethernet up to 328 feet
- Is rated and measured at 100MHz (which means the CPU can process up to 100 million commands a second)
Cat5e tends to have a slightly higher delay and skew than either Cat6 and Cat6A cabling. This means that Cat5e can give the appearance of being slower.
Category 6 cables are the current cabling standard for high-speed Ethernet networks. Cat6 cables provide the following:
- 23-gauge twisted pair wires
- 10 Gigabits of network speed
- Offers this high speed up to 164 feet—for distances over 164 feet, delivers speeds at the same rate as Cat5e cabling
- Is rated and measured at a bandwidth of 250MHz
Additionally, Cat6 offers enhanced performance levels compared to Cat5e: e.g., a tighter twist in the cables that allow for two-way communication, signal loss reduction, and less cross-talk.
The “a” in category 6A cabling stands for augmented. These cables deliver warp speeds and are used for 10G networks or when high bandwidth speeds are needed. Further, Cat6A cables are thicker than Cat6 cables as they have a thick plastic around the wires and because the pairs have a tighter twist. This provides more copper per inch, which results in less cross-talk and less signal loss.
Cat6A Ethernet cables offer the following:
- 23-gauge twisted pair wires
- 10 Gigabits of network speed
- Provides Ethernet up to 330 feet
- Is rated and measured at a bandwidth of 500MHz
Cat6A offers double the speed and distance of Cat6, which makes it an ideal cabling choice for businesses.
A Quick Word About Cat7 and Cat8
Cat7, although somewhat comparable to Cat6A, is not considered to be a good cabling choice. According to Massachusetts-based cabling company Cable Matters:
“. . . Cat7 specification is a proprietary standard developed by a group of companies. It is not an IEEE standard and is not approved by TIA/EIA. Cat7 cables don’t use the traditional RJ-45 Ethernet header (technically known as an 8P8C connector). The GG45 connector that is used instead is proprietary. Despite its backward compatibility with RJ45, these connectors are hard to come by. Cat7 cables are also compatible with the TERA connector, although that has also seen very little use in the industry.”1
Cat8 is the fastest Ethernet cable to date. It has the following features:
- 23-gauge twisted pair wires
- 40 Gigabits of network speed
- Provides Ethernet up to 98 feet
- Is rated and measured at a bandwidth of 2000MHz
Cat 8 is designed for high-speed switch to switch communication in data centers or server rooms with 25GBase-T or 40GBase-T networks.
To Sum Up
First, it is important to note that each cabling category’s transmission speeds are hypothetical and depend on all components to perform at the maximum speeds. For instance, you will never get an optimum speed using a legacy device that is not capable of attaining Gigabit speeds.
Cat 5e is the least expensive cabling option; however, it is also the slowest. It is certain that Cat5e can perform well for most of today’s applications, especially if your network is cloud-based—but leaves less opportunity to upgrade in the future.
If you need speed, Cat6 and Cat6A is your best choice of cabling. Cat6 does not provide the distance that Cat6A does; however, it is the less expensive choice. Also, choosing either Cat6 or Cat6A will help future-proof your network for at least a few years. Unless you have a 25G or 45G network, Cat 6 or Cat6A cables will be plenty fast enough for most situations.
Find out more about Versa’s Power over Ethernet technology.
1: Cable Matters: What is Cat7—and why you don’t need it.