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Q: What is IEEE 802.3bz 5 gigabit Ethernet?

A: IEEE 802.3bz 5 gigabit Ethernet is a new data rate developed to fall between two existing data rates, gigabit Ethernet and 10 gigabit Ethernet. The standard is referred to as 5GBase-T. Develop by the IEEE and formally known as 802.3bz, 5GBase-T is intended to operate over existing Category 6 infrastructure. Like gigabit Ethernet, it utilizes all 4 pairs of the cable. However, unlike the slower gigabit Ethernet, it uses a full 0-200 Mhz range requiring it operate at minimum over a Category 6 infrastructure. Additionally, since it uses a sizeable portion of the Category 6 spectral bandwidth (0-250 Mhz), the quality of the connectivity and the cable will play a role in the ultimate performance of the link. Just like 10-gigabit Ethernet can operate over some Category 6 links, it is heavily distance restricted. 5GBase-T can also, of course, operate over the higher performing Category 6A infrastructure. 5GBase-T is intended to be helpful in a couple scenarios. It can be used for those who wish to increase their data rates over their existing Category 6 infrastructure. Although, as is the case with any Ethernet data rate, the quality of the components used as well as the installation will impact actual data network speeds. For those users who have prepared for the future by installing a Category 6A infrastructure, utilizing 5GBase-T could be seen as an interim solution if a cost savings on network electronics is desired. Then, when the appropriate time comes, upgrading to the faster 10GBase-T electronics will not be an issue since Category 6A was designed to accommodate it.

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