What is Cisco Multigigabit and Why Should I Care?

By Jim Burns, Senior Product Engineer

First things first, Multigigabit is Cisco’s marketing terminology for NBASE-T (IEEE 802.3bz). Feel free to do your research on it in the following links; however, there will not be a pop quiz once this blog post is over. So don't worry.

What's the Deal with Multigig?

Yeah… blah blah – so what?

OK, the main benefit to Multigigabit is that it’s for switches that have the latest/greatest 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless APs connected to them. The term refers to a port’s ability to connect to devices (like APs) that require more than 1 gig of throughput.

If you really want to get technical, the speeds supported by Cisco’s Multigigabit ports are 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 2.5 Gbps, and 5 Gbps on Cat5e cable, and up to 10 Gbps over Cat6a cabling.

Cisco switches that support Multigigabit technology at this point are:

  • Catalyst 4500E chassis (WS-X4748-12X48U+E blade)
  • Catalyst 3850 stackable (WS-C3850-24XU, WS-C3850-12X48U)
  • Catalyst 3650 stackable (WS-C3650-8X24PD, WS-C3650-12X48FD, WS-C3650-8X24UQ, WS-C3650-12X48UQ, WS-C3650-12X48UR, WS-C3650-12X48UZ)
  • Catalyst 3560-CX compact (WS-C3560CX-8XPD-S)

And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning all the Cisco APs that can do Multigigabit:

  • Cisco 3800 series
  • Meraki MR84

Which Side Are You On?

Alright, that’s about enough geek stuff… at this point, you’re probably in one of two camps:

Camp One: You’ve been thinking about or planning to upgrade your wireless in the near term to the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 APs. If so, COOL! 

You’re going to have a state-of-the-art wireless setup that just cries out for Multigig – now you have a clue of what it is and which Cisco products support it. I hope you have the budget to make your dreams come true.

Camp Two: You’re reading this thinking, "I’m nowhere near upgrading to a wireless setup like that, but I do need to upgrade my switch infrastructure." OK, may I humbly suggest that you don’t chase after Multigig yet. Here’s why:

  • It’s EXPENSIVE – latest/greatest stuff always is
  • Availability is limited – especially in the secondary market where you can really save budget money

Remember again that there are literally only a couple of Cisco APs that have the feature. Are you really considering going after those high-end APs?

If you’re looking for options, or have more questions, how about giving CXtec a call? We have product managers and engineers that can help guide you to an affordable switching solution with the right features for your needs.  Offering customers options is what we do – it’s our specialty.