Ashick C.A., Sales Manager at Norden Communication Middle East Fze, discusses the latest trends in the cabling market, including the uptake of CAT 6A solutions, fibre versus copper, and the data centre application market.
According to recent research by BSRIAs, the uptake of CAT 6A solutions is highest in Europe and the Middle East. In your opinion, what is driving the region’s cabling market growth?
Future oriented approach from the public and private sector customers calls for a minimum of CAT 6A solution to carry 10G on the single network point connectivity. The high bandwidth requirement, along with the increase of connected hardware which require fast connectivity, are the key elements to bring CAT 6A into picture on most of the projects in this region. Each cabling infrastructure must be highly functional, and it needs a reliable high-performing IT network. The main goals and requirements in the region are to provide Wi-Fi compliant with IEEE 802.11ас and cable networks which can deliver 10 Gbit data and voice transmission. The Health care, hospitality, education, and public sectors tend to be far more concerned about their fast and safe connectivity, which leads upcoming projects to upgrade their solution to CAT 6A. More and more foreign investments focused in the Middle East are coming up with upgraded specifications for high quality services, which makes it easy for the present generation to do far more. The network cabling industry is moving forward by adapting every aspect of connectivity with minimum requirement of CAT 6A as a standard to fulfil end users’ need. New mobile technologies like 5G also create increased fibre cable requirement for feeder cables, which will replace existing RF cables usage by 4G and earlier systems.
What impact does low compatibility with old communication infrastructure, fluctuating copper, and fibre optic cable prices have on the market?
Initially, when fibre solution was introduced in the market, cost was double or triple than the present market condition. Now there is little difference between copper and fibre, as both the components’ prices have decreased. Most of the office network is made of copper cabling, which has cheap components for a bandwidth of 10Gbps in the high side – benefiting both investors and economy of the company. However, fibre cable, with its reduced cost and increased bandwidth, as well as high speed and long transmission distance, reliability and security, is a more trustworthy option when it comes to long-distance, security and reliability. In fact, fibre optic works for a distance of 12 miles with high speed of 10,000Mbps; whereas copper works at a speed of 1,000 Mbps for 300 ft distance – it’s clear that copper is more into LAN performance compared to WAN for fibre optic. When it comes to security, fibre is difficult to tap, while copper is more susceptible to tapping. Fibre optic is also easier to handle since it’s lightweight, thinner in radius and give a strong pulling strength. Fibre optic has a lifetime of between 30 and 50 years, while copper has a period of about five to ten. Although copper is perfectly adequate for a voice signal, it has very limited bandwidth – fibre provides standardised performance up to 10Gbps and beyond. In addition, the signal loss over 500 meters in fibre is acceptable, while copper has very high loss at high frequencies. Moreover, fibre optic cable is much less affected by various environmental factors than copper cable. Finally, signal correction or interruption of fibre can be identified easily via various techniques, but damaged or cut copper need to be removed completely.
Every organisation is going through a Digital Transformation journey to stay ahead of the curve in today’s digital economy. What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the cabling market due to this?
The public sector is the main role model for most organisations in the Middle East, including when it comes to cabling solutions. For example, tourism, hospitality, or banking have almost all moved to the latest solution, CAT 6A, and high- speed cabling, thus providing people better and faster services. Each organisation is trying to be topper in the country to serve better and smarter solutions, which creates the need for higher specification and material requirement within their time frame. Often, we try to reach out with the best solution for our customers. The market now sees all organisations securing their data premises using monitoring systems like CCTV. This requires more cabling since most of the cameras used are now IP based. Requirements for network systems have increased dynamically to meet all these needs.
Many hyperscalers are laying brick and mortar in the region with new data centres. Do you see the data centre application market growing faster than LAN in the region?
The future lies within data centres, and the requirements for data centres in the cabling market has increased. Norden provides data centre solutions that feature the latest innovations to meet our clients’ requirements. Large amount of data stored in data centres, and cloud accessed through wired, wireless and mobile networks, will drive the data centre application requirements. At the same time, the growth of LAN and faster network access requirement will continue to grow for some time, with technologies like IoT requiring more and more gadgets and machines to be connected.