The Association for Passive Optical LAN (APOLAN) recently unveiled five trends that it says are driving the replacement of copper-based networks with passive optical LAN to meet the connectivity demands of smart buildings.
The five trends are: the cloud, data growth, the rise of IoT, density demand, and investment protection. Here are the APOLAN’s descriptions of each.
- The cloud: With most environments moving to the cloud and servers in buildings no longer commonplace, demands for software-as-a-service (SaaS) environments are increasing. A classic copper-based LAN cannot keep pace as it was designed to carry traffic between computers in a building or campus. POL environments, on the other hand, can easily accommodate this shift by reliably connecting users to their SaaS applications running in the cloud.
- Data growth: The growth of 4K video is one example of how data growth is pushing the limits of traditional infrastructure. With the future predicted to bring continued growth in traditional business data use, and even greater growth in sensor data, fiber is the 21st-century media for LAN. POL enables capacity growth at a fraction of the equipment and cabling required with classic LAN architectures, which also decreases both operating expenses (opex) and capital expenses (capex).
- IoT on the rise: Smart buildings are defined by sensors, devices and systems in the building connected to the LAN to operate more efficiently. However, classic LAN technology from the 20th century was never designed to support a network robust enough to stay ahead of the increasing device growth.
- The density demand: Advances in WiFi like 802.11ax carry more traffic and support a large number of users and devices in a smaller area. While each user may have several connected devices and be surrounded by IoT devices, each user still expects to have fast accessibility. As the number of devices and sensors in a building increases, density will be an issue for traditional copper-based LANs.
- Investment protection: POL has proven to deliver capex and opex savings beyond that of a traditional copper-based LAN. More impressive is that the investment made today will deliver benefits for decades to come. No matter what technology advancements or demands arise 30 years from now, POL will be in place to accommodate them. Copper networks, however, will not be able to withstand the test of time without significant—and costly—upgrades.
Mario Blandini, chair of the APOLAN’s marketing committee, commented, “A smart building can be thought of as an ecosystem, a dynamic entity with many devices of varying age that need to communicate and depend on each other. If a smart building’s ecosystem was the human body, passive optical LAN would be the central nervous system, transmitting vast amounts of data with seamless connectivity and communications, regardless of the various components in the network.”
The APOLAN added, “Across the globe, POL is a vital component for smart buildings and smart campuses to enable the various communication and analyzation systems that supply data and optimize building performance. With POL in place, management and operations, as well as end-users, can take advantage of these value-added services while being sustainable, secure, safe, reliable and resilient. According to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), around the globe, the smart buildings technology market will explode 16.1 percent over the next five years from a 2018 market size of $30.5 billion.
“From hospitality, education, government and healthcare, to corporate environments, POL allows buildings and campuses to achieve improved efficiency at a lower cost, and supports green buildings and more-efficient spaces by providing a futureproof and high-speed infrastructure to keep pace with today and tomorrow’s technology demands.”