Businesses expanding their IT network infrastructure to meet increasing bandwidth demands often run into a problem once the expansion project is complete — some connected devices won’t work. More often than not, solely focusing on deploying new wireless access points (WAP) will result in this roadblock. While the new access points likely meet the common 10-Gbit throughput requirements of today’s data-driven businesses, the cabling that could have been installed years ago might not be up to speed.
However, don’t assume you have to rip and replace the old cables — it may not be necessary. Replacing every old cable takes a lot of time, money and effort. So how can you prove the old cable will work and can be left in place, or prove it will not work and requires rip and replace? Performing a BERT (bit error rate test) allows you to test the old cables to see if they will handle the performance required for the new access points. Cable qualifiers like Softing’s NetXpert XG2 can determine if the current cable is capable of the required speed. If you can prove the old cables work with NetXpert XG2, then there is no need to rip and replace.
Here are some examples of how NetXpert XG2 has supported real network expansion projects to minimize unnecessarily spent time, labor and resources:
Automated Production Plant
A mineral water manufacturer that utilizes automated production machines discovered that a sensor testing incoming water from a nearby spring was not working properly. This problem occurred after upgrading the network servers and SFP modules. The company decided that NetXpert XG2, which offers the bit error rate test (BERT), was the ideal method to test its cables.
BERT is an excellent real-world application test that determines whether your Ethernet cable will function within its installed environment with devices already connected to the network. BERT's simple process sends packets of data from one end of the cable to the other including checksum to see if there are any bit errors. The cable passes the test if there are no bit errors. BERT is run bi-directionally, just like real duplex Ethernet communications, and test durations can be set to seconds, minutes, hours or even continuous.
With NetXpert’s BERT function, the company discovered that a legacy OM1 cable running from the sensor to the plant could not meet the system's current speed requirements. BERT allowed for a quick assessment of the problem, and the company took action by installing a cable that provided greater performance.
But sometimes the problem is the SFP and not the cable. Since the NetXpert XG2 features an SFP bay, you can insert your SFP, check and verify properties, and even run BERT using your SFP to test the entire link.
A business campus located in southern Europe experienced frequent dropouts in its fiber optic (FO) network during warm summer days. An IT company was called to troubleshoot the issue. Network switches were checked and found to be in working order, so a cable company was contacted. The cable company monitored the network’s performance by using NetXpert to run BERT. The test was first run at night and no issues were discovered. But when BERT was run during office hours, the dropouts returned.
The FO cable was located beneath a street. NetXpert was employed again, this time setting the test duration for several hours and using the LiveLight™ function. Based on LiveLight’s real-time, continuous power loss trend data, the cable company concluded that as the day progressed, signal loss increased. The pavement would heat up throughout the day, causing the temperature of the ground below to rise. Temperatures would increase past the cable’s insertion loss threshold, causing failure. As a solution, the campus rerouted the cable to a location away from the street.
In this case, the expense of cable rerouting was unavoidable, but the campus could have saved many costly steps if it had owned NetXpert. Unnecessary downtime would have been avoided, along with the costs associated with troubleshooting the issue.
NetXpert Excels in Real World Applications
To ensure your operations run smoothly, it’s important to spend less time troubleshooting and more time remediating any problems. A cost-effective and intuitive solution, NetXpert allows businesses to run network diagnostics and troubleshoot problems without having to hire a third party.