Technology Blog

More bandwidth for 802.11ac with HPE Smart Rate


Why do I need multi-gigabit Ethernet?

If your business environment is not all wireless yet, chances are it will be soon. Reliable, secure wireless access that delivers plenty of bandwidth for video, cloud apps and business collaboration tools is what the digital workplace is all about. The skyrocketing population of smartphones, tablets and Internet of Things (IoT) devices combined with high bandwidth workloads moving across wireless networks requires that the campus aggregation network evolves to meet these demands.


Advances in Wi-Fi technology with new 802.11ac Wave 2 capable devices drive up the performance and increase demands on network connections from one to multiple Gigabits. So no longer is the typical 1 Gigabit wired connection fast enough yet moving up to 10 Gigabit is complicated and expensive since most cabling systems were only designed for 1Gbps. Fortunately, an emerging standard for multi-gigabit Ethernet delivers both high-speed and power for 802.11ac Wave 2 access devices while using existing CAT5e and CAT6 twisted pair wiring, saving the rip and replace expense and complexity of a new cabling infrastructure.  We call this new multi-gigabit Ethernet technology HPE Smart Rate.


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What is HPE Smart Rate?

HPE Smart Rate multi-gigabit Ethernet technology allows 802.11ac Wave 2 access points to move wireless traffic at the multi-gigabit speeds they are capable of without having to upgrade existing cabling. It is a new multi-gigabit (1, 2.5, 5, 10Gbps) twisted-pair network interface that is interoperable with the NBASE-T ecosystem of 2.5/5Gbps products as well as with existing industry standard 1GbE/10GbE devices. Here is what it does:


  • Smart Rate delivers 2.5-10 times more bandwidth capacity from existing cable infrastructure without expensive and disruptive cable upgrades.
  • Smart Rate ports on Aruba 3810 and Aruba 5400R Switches provide up to 30W of Power over Ethernet, regardless of the port speed.
  • Smart Rate ports are auto-negotiating, which enables the Ethernet link to settle into the highest speed that can be achieved in a given cable configuration.
  • Smart Rate ports on Aruba campus switches support industry standard 802.1AE MAC layer encryption to ensure data confidentiality and integrity for improved switch-to-switch security.
  • Smart Rate ports on Aruba 330 Series Access Points provide multi-rate 1Gbps and 2.5Gbps.

Can I really use my existing cabling?

Twisted-pair wiring is truly the unsung hero once again. Cat5/Cat5E cable has proven so robust that it has gone from supporting Fast Ethernet, to 10BASE-T, to 10GBASE-T speeds and now multi-gig speeds with PoE+.  Because cable type plays a large role in determining maximum distance supported, check out the latest guidelines.


Ready to rev up your campus network?

Aruba takes a mobile-first approach to creating the foundation for the digital workplace and meet the performance, visibility, and security challenges that IT faces in building an infrastructure. Our integrated wired and wireless portfolio includes HPE Smart Rate ports on the new 330 series APs and 3810 and 5400R campus switches so you can simplify the move to faster performance by leveraging existing cabling.


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The details are here

Learn more about how to take advantage of 802.11ac Wave 2 with HPE Smart Rate in this solution brief.

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