back to article Cisco intros desktop switches, one with USB-C to power your laptop

Cisco reckons it has invented "a whole new category of switches" called "micro-switches". Switchzilla suggested fibre-to-the-desk makes these devices sensible because it means you can run a connection all the way from one really big aggregation switch to a desktop or other device, instead of needing to put intermediary …

  1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

    Some defense-related sites that have made fibre-to-the-desk mandatory.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      There's also an element of future proofing in fibre. Lay it down once, and once only.

      That's assuming something comes along that means we need it of course, like a return to office working, holographic VTCs, or Web technologies bloating even further to the point where a "Hello World" website is a couple of terabytes or so...

      1. Martin Howe
        Joke

        "Web technologies bloating even further to the point where a "Hello World" website is a couple of terabytes or so.."

        Dunno about the web, but on desktop, I'm sure MICROS~1 can arrange that for you :p

        1. LDS Silver badge

          As long as they write applications like Skype using Electron, that's sadly true...

      2. Gordon Shumway

        Isn't Wi-Fi more conveniently future-proof then? Don't lay anything down, and then never lay anything down again.

        1. Adelio Silver badge

          is wifi really practical if you have 100 devices on a floor all needing gb data?

          1. My-Handle Silver badge

            I had the opportunity to run my eye over a temporary manufacturing facility near the start of the pandemic. With a double-handful of computers spread over a large temporary space, you'd think WiFi would be a perfect fit, but we quickly ran into noise issues even with multiple WiFi points, partly thanks to an order of hundreds of mobile phones in one metal walled building.

            Obv fibre isn't a solution here, but it did illustrate interference issues pretty damn well. We even got interference in the bloody network cables, even with comparatively short lengths. The lot had to be shielded.

          2. Brad Ackerman
            Pint

            Wireless for everyone is totally impractical. Even with 100 devices on a floor not needing gigabit data, you're going to have fun. Besides which, in the EU (and UK if the Tories haven't axed that law) you're going to be required to have a docking station for your laptop because ergonomics, so may as well plug in the network port.

            If we were in the office at my current employer (in the US), most people would be working from a desktop or docked laptop. When we do go back there half-time, I'm probably going to ask for a 10G network drop for my desktop; it would be helpful rather often despite not needing to pass terabyte-sized datasets around.

            1. Down not across Silver badge

              Besides which, in the EU (and UK if the Tories haven't axed that law) you're going to be required to have a docking station for your laptop because ergonomics, so may as well plug in the network port.

              Would you happen to have link to that?

              1. Brad Ackerman

                Yes, e.g. page 52.

                1. Glen 1 Silver badge
                  Holmes

                  Not quite

                  you're going to be required to have a docking station

                  What you link to does not say what you said.

                  From the link:

                  Other points to consider when planning tasks involving portable computers are:

                  [...]

                  (c) Provide docking stations or similar equipment (see paragraph 11 of this appendix) at workstations where portable computers will be in lengthy or repeated use.

                  "Points to consider" is not the same thing as "required to have".

                  The rest is just saying standard ergonomics apply - i.e. your boss can't make you hunch over a laptop on a low table for extended periods of time. A situation that *can* be remedied by having a proper desk setup with a docking station, yes, but its also solved by having a £10 laptop stand on the same desk.

                  Also, look at the date of the document. If docking stations were required, they would have been required since at least 2003. Not "going to be".

          3. overunder Silver badge

            "is wifi really practical if you have 100 devices on a floor all needing gb data?"

            While I completely agree that wifi isn't feasible, I'm also not so sure that 25 _MORE_ power cords is either. If the device locations are fixed, that's the time to install a raised floor and snake power & data. If the devices are not fixed... well... actually I might have to change my mind about wifi :-/.

            However, something in me needs to argue against wifi, so with the USB-C in the switch that's one less adapter to fit to the wall, of course then again you could just plug it into your current PC/laptop via Type-A (especially considering USB-C -> USB-C isn't common). Damn, I think I can only state that if you need 100 devices, you should have a raised floor... I'm leaving it at that.

        2. Tomato Krill

          Ok so fibre to the wifi, if you must?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            >so fibre to the wifi...

            Well, one of the advantages of copper has been the ability to unify data and power over a single cable. However, it does look that with WiFi 6 and its theoretical limit of 9.6Gbps we are reaching the point where AP's will be needing two different connections: one copper for power and a second (potentially fibre) for data, making installation a lot more problematic.

        3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          WiFi is fine if you don't need significant bandwidth. But routing all the PCs in an office through a single WiFi choke point could make things awfully slow if the PCs are transferring moderate amounts of data to & from a local server.

        4. FIA Silver badge

          Problem with wifi, is it gets everywere and mixes with all of that other wireless stuff too.

          I live in a 'standard size' 3 bed house, I need 2 APs to give reliable wifi to all the devices.

          One of those APs is about 6 foot away from the 'working from home' desk.

          That desk has a hard wired ethernet port, because, when you get a computer, with wifi, and a work laptop, with wifi, and a cordless mouse and keyboard, and maybe a bluetooth speaker or 2 nearby you find that previously 'rock solid' wifi is virtually non-existant.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "I live in a 'standard size' 3 bed house, I need 2 APs to give reliable wifi to all the devices."

            Once you start dabbling with home automation it's not at all difficult to have upwards of 50 WIfi or Zigbee devices. Things add up fast

          2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Same here.

            Some housebricks have a high iron content. Totally opaque to 2.4GHz.

            Can't cover the entire house on 1 WAP, and wireless doorbells are a non-starter.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

        There's also an element of future proofing in fibre. Lay it down once, and once only.

        We did that in an office in 1991, along with basic twisted pair for phones and the then-current 10baseT Ethernet. The assumption was that we'd be running 155Mbit/s ATM over the fibre "soon". Over the years we upgraded the twisted pair to Cat 5, Cat 6 etc.. When we left that office we had Gbit/s Ethernet over cat 6e to the desktops, WiFi everywhere for laptops, and the fibre was still gathering dust. Never became cost-effective.

        1. jason_derp Bronze badge

          Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

          "we had Gbit/s Ethernet over cat 6e to the desktops"

          Did you mean 6a? Because one of the two is a meaningful distinction, and the other is bait in a rube-snare.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

            Indeed, we went 5e to 6, I misspoke (mistyped?).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

          Depends on what you do with your computers.

          Some companies hand employees PCs and that's it.

          Others provide higher end workstations.

          Some provide both. (Think R&D labs)

          The interesting thing is that this is only 1GbE per port.

          Higher end PCs / Workstations have 2.5 / 5 / 10GbE on the motherboard and if a PC, you can buy 100GbE cards that aren't too expensive. (Granted not for the avg employee.

          If I were building a house... I'd pull fiber runs to each room.

          I'd also have wi-fi too, but the fiber would be for media (TV, etc... where I would want a fast clean connection.)

          And yes, I'm *that* guy who has commercial grade networking at home.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

            When I built my home, I had them install conduit down the wall. I ran 6 CAT6A connections down each conduit and there is still room in them. So adding or replacing cabling in the future is far easier with the conduit. In the attic I use harsh environment Cisco switches. Amazon Fire TV USB adapters are 10/100, Roku offers 1Gb but most TV's are still 10/100. So I decided a 10/100 Industrial Ethernet (IE) switch would suffice and then use the 2 x 1Gb uplink ports. On a second IE switch, it has 8 PoE ports. Two of those ports are used for Logitech Harmony systems; the 2400 Pro model that has a 10/100 PoE port on it. So it communicates with the Roku and Fire TV via BT and then talks to the TV over copper.

            You don't need gigabit ports for streaming as if you really look at what is supported, it will never use gigabit speeds anyway.

            https://developer.roku.com/docs/specs/media/streaming-specifications.md

            AVC 1080p encodings

            Resolution Bitrate (kbps)

            1920x1080 5800

            Supported video codecs

            Videos can be encoded using H.264, HEVC (H.265), or VP9 codecs.

            Video Bitrate Up to 10Mbps Up to 40Mbps Up to 40Mbps

            So with CAT6A good for 10Gbps at 100m, I don't see the need for fiber. You're either going to need a switch to take the fiber to go to copper ports for the end devices anyway or use a media converter. SO having 2x1Gb to the IE switch in the attic to feed the TV's, Roku's, Amazon Fire TV sticks and Playstations works just fine. Using the 70% rule and even with a single 1Gb uplink, using the maximum bitrate supported (40Mbps), that is 17.5 devices. If you run copper correctly, then you don't have issues with it being a clean connection.

            In my attic I have the following:

            2 x IE3010's. One is 24 port of 10/100 copper with 2x1Gb uplinks, the other is 16 10/100 fiber SFP ports and 8 10/100 PoE ports.

            1 x IE3000 8 port. This just handles multicast TV service. I only use one uplink interface at 1Gb and then the STB's are 10/100.

            1 x IE2000 16 ports with four of them PoE+ ports.

            1 x IE3000 4 port with the 8 port 10/100 module and 4 port 10/100 PoE module

            1 x CDB8U which provides 8 ports of 10/100 UPOE ports; mainly used for cameras, video doorbel and even the sprinkler controller which I use a PoE splitter with to take the 60 watts of PoE power and convert to back AC but at 24V.

            The core is a 3850 switch stack.

            I really don't see the need for fiber for home use.

            1. baspax

              Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

              Beautiful.

          2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

            "That guy" with commercial grade networking at home? Ah, my friend, consider your audience. I've got 40 ports, maybe half of which are active, and ran my first and only fibre to the shed the end of the garden because it's too far for ethernet. I've two custom rack panels being delivered next week to clean up the cable spaghetti from my array of sensors and DALI lighting system (with circuit boards of my design in each light switch).

            Meanwhile, at my actual office, we make do with 16 ports, no fibre, no rack. I actually have to get some work done there so can't muck about with the infrastructure. My colleagues are not as tolerant of downtime as my wife is...

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

          Yes in the late 80's/early 90's there was an expectation that fibre would take off, personally, I was sceptical even allowing for the benefits of blown fibre, given the costs and problems of in-situ glass fibre termination. However, plastic fibre looked promising for in-building networking but it too seems to have been past over.

        4. s2bu

          Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

          Once you start looking at even 10GE, fiber SFPs+ and their switches are much cheaper than ones using RJ-45.

          Copper these days is stupid expensive. I have a *farm* that has fiber bundles everywhere because I can get fiber and SFPs+ from China cheaper than direct-burial Ethernet cable.

          1. Tomato42

            Re: Future-proofing needs a better crystal ball

            SFP switches are cheap because half the logic is in the modules

      4. hplasm
        Paris Hilton

        Users ahoy! Red alert!

        "Lay it down once, and once only."

        And invest in F/O under desk patch lead companies.

        Paris, because she will roll her chair over the cables...

      5. Mike Dunderdale

        fibre not future proofed.

        Try running 10Gig on longer lengths of om1 fibre..

        1. s2bu

          Re: fibre not future proofed.

          These days, honestly, you might as well just run OS2 singlemode and call it a day. There's almost no cost savings advantage dealing with multimode.

      6. Ribfeast

        If only...my workplace has OM1 cabling everywhere. Really needs to be replaced with something that is capable of faster speeds.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          There are specialist SFPs which will allow you to run higher speeds on OM1/OM2 (think: CWDM) - but they get pricy, quickly

          If you're installing new, just put in singlemode. Multimode is good in server rooms but not for longer runs and as others have mentioned the price difference between SM/MM transceivers is no longer there

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Mandatory fibre-to-the-desk vital for viral defence and virile attacking systems

      Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

      Precisely, sanmigueelbeer, it aids an abundance of security precautions to try and ensure and insure guaranteed insulation and isolation against phishing and snooping.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mandatory fibre-to-the-desk vital for viral defence and virile attacking systems

        But it is possible (though not easy) to put a passive "spy" on a fibre. I'm not sure how fibre protects against phishing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Mandatory fibre-to-the-desk vital for viral defence and virile attacking systems

          Actually its very difficult to do that.

          There are other ways to snoop like at the switch...

          The real reason is that you have a computer or system that requires a bit more networking bandwidth.

          In the consumer world, your smart TV w 4K or now 8K resolution would provide better streaming w hard wire over wi-fi. The other issue w wi-fi is that it can get crowded. 100s of devices all wanting access.

          (You have a pc, ipad, phone on different SSIDs withing the corporate office.

          A wired desktop gives you better performance at your desk. Not to mention that you may or may not have an actual office over a desk. So there's interference that reduces the effectiveness of the wi-fi AP.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mandatory fibre-to-the-desk vital for viral defence and virile attacking systems

          All you need is a tap. It breaks it out into two fibers so you have the transmit and receive signals. Not that hard, as easy as well....connecting fibers.

        3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

          Re: Mandatory fibre-to-the-desk vital for viral defence and virile attacking systems

          But it is possible (though not easy) to put a passive "spy" on a fibre

          Operation Ivy Bells

          1. chrisw67

            Re: Mandatory fibre-to-the-desk vital for viral defence and virile attacking systems

            Worked well on copper bundles, not fibre. Very interesting story though. Seek out "Blind Man's Bluff" by Sontag and Drew if you want to know more abouth these hijinks.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

      Having way back in the 1980's spec'd a fibre-to-the-desk/FTTO/FTTx network infrastructure, I know there are use cases, which cause me to question:

      1. Why no fibre port - this implies if I actually want fibre-to-the-desk I actually need 2 x FTTx outlets (one for the micro hub, one available to user devices).

      2. Why limit it to 1Gbps ports, the top end model should have 10Gbps capable ports and the four port models capable of supporting up to 40Gbps over the fibre....

      Additionally, the Cisco website spec's don't give any information about the USB-C power other than the line about laptops, so is it 100w capable?

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

        1. There's the SFP port.

        2. Do you have a use case for a desktop 10G + PoE combo? 40G uplink would probably need active cooling as well. Why not 100G for the lulz?

        The PSU is 80W so quite unlikely to offer 100 watts for USB-C... Deducting the 65W power budget that leaves a theoretical 15 watts for USB-C. Of course you'd need to also deduct the odd watt needed to power the switch itself (and the SFP), power conversion losses and leaving a small headroom... I'd guess 7 watts is what you'd get from the USB ports - total.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

          >1. There's the SFP port.

          The SFP port is for the uplink ie. connection to the building wiring. Obviously, the (Cisco compatible) SFP module will be an additional cost.

          >2. Do you have a use case for a desktop 10G

          Yes, talk to a CGI production house. However, given how relatively cheap 100Mbps/1Gbps/10Gbps LAN adaptors are, it would make sense for Cisco to have an equivalent offering - but then perhaps these micro switches might impact sales of more expensive (Cisco) kit...

          >40G uplink would probably need active cooling as well

          It's fibre, none of my 100Gbps SFP modules have active cooling...

          >Why not 100G for the lulz?

          Well currently 10Gbps over copper is reasonable, thus 4 ports implies 40Gbps, but yes it is more cost effective (for the customer) to go with 1/10/100Gbps fibre uplinks.

          >The PSU is 80W

          From rereading the spec. it seems for the desktop variant, depending on which PSU option you take, the max. passthrough power budget is 120W and so it can support USB-PD, whilst the PoE budget seems to be limited to 60W max. (30W max. per port). I suspect Cisco intend the PoE to be used by a (Cisco) desk phone.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Re: Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

            ‘CGI Production house’. Fairly niche....

            1. Tomato42

              Re: Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

              we're talking about people that are running fibre to the desk, that's not niche?

          2. Sandtitz Silver badge

            Re: Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

            >2. Do you have a use case for a desktop 10G

            Yes, talk to a CGI production house.

            Hmm... I wrote about "10G + PoE combo". You cropped the last part. 10G is fine for a desktop, but I'm not aware of 10G PoE ports, nor do I see any use for such a combination at the desktop.

            >40G uplink would probably need active cooling as well

            It's fibre, none of my 100Gbps SFP modules have active cooling...

            Hmm... I've never seen a passive cooled switch with a >10Gb fibre port. Have you?

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Cisco hasn’t explained why you’d run fibre to the desktop

              > "10G + PoE combo"

              This specific combo is probably niche today, I was actually looking at this from a general all purpose piece of kit. Where it is probably easier to kit out with 4 x 10/100/1G/10G LAN with PoE ports than to mix and match.

              >I've never seen a passive cooled switch with a >10Gb fibre port. Have you?

              Most switches are quite large and performant, however there are some which support "fanless operation". Looking at a 4 port desktop device (ie. not intended to support connection to a production server) with a well designed case, there is no reason why passive cooling wouldn't work.

              This Ubiquiti desktop switch seems to be fanless:

              https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/products/33906-ubiquiti-us-xg-6poe/

              But basically it is clear Cisco currently don't see 10Gbps being part of the typical office environment now or in the next few years.

    4. Brad Ackerman
      Boffin

      It depends how the government agency that's signing off feels (which can encompass both technical and political factors), and also site-specific criteria (e.g. TEMPEST). If the tenant controls the entire building, there's no reason why fibre to the desktop would be required for security reasons, and that's been the case for decades.

      Wireless classified networks are doable under current policy and NSA publishes guidelines for implementing them. They're great for people who run around attending meetings all day, but won't replace classified wired networks for the same reason that unclassified wireless won't replace those wired networks.

    5. very angry man

      Sigh.

      Normally i would NOT advocate design over engineering , but these are so ugly so "1960s".

      if you put that on your desktop it is going to get all sorts of stuff put on top of it , it will be buried like arnt Alice , it will overheat, may be like the bage boxes of yesteryear

      1. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: Sigh.

        Shirley it’s all goingthe other way and back to the 60’s anyway ?

        Cloud Computing after all is just Mainframe Timesharing 2.0.

  2. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

    And in one hundred year or so it could be used instead of cables really. Probably when we'll have MU-MIMO 128x128, and each channel will be at least 160MHz without interference from neighborliness ones.

    In these months of working from home the difference between those who have a cabled network at home, and those who relied on WiFi only, was pretty clear... WiFi in the office is for the occasional laptop/table/phone who can't access the network otherwise.

    1. vilemeister

      Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

      I haven't got round to putting cat5 round my house even though I've lived here for 5 years and I'm very lucky I have 5ghz wireless - everyone else in housing estates with 2.4 is swamped.

      1. m4r35n357

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        Mains (powerline) ethernet is cheap, more reliable than WiFi, & easier than cabling.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

          I'm using powerline at the moment.

          It is not reliable, or much cheaper than Cat6.

          But it is a lot quicker to install than WiFi repeaters or Cat6, hence my current situation.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

            I have powerline as a trunk between floors. It was meant to be temporary until I get around running fibre (or possibly copper) between SFP ports. Much to my surprise it has been extremely reliable. So much so that I haven't bothered tearing walls and floors open for the cable run. House was partially rewired before which may help with regards to quality of the mains wiring. I did have to replace the kit once as one converter did die (old age or issues with power we had in the area for a while where it fluctuated and at times was on/off like a yoyo.

            They can be quite sensitive to what else is connected to the circuit.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        Eventually your neighbours will also get 5GHz WiFi, and you'll also get swamped.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

          1: 5GHz doesn't go far, so there are fewer neighbours to swamp you

          2: There are more non-overlapping channels, so you can set your system up with frequency agility to avoid the neighbours

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        >I haven't got round to putting cat5 round my house even though I've lived here for 5 years and I'm very lucky I have 5ghz wireless

        There is 5Ghz (802.11a) and there is 5Ghz (802.11ax aka WiFi6)...

        If your broadband connection is sub 30Mbps and you are not using the WiFi for TV casting, you'll probably not notice the difference.

      4. John Miles

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        My 5G was being swamped - so I ended up getting a tri-band AX router which makes things much better. However I suspect the switch from N to AC/AX and the fact the router has a pretty powerful processor helps.

    2. Flightmode

      Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

      WiFi usually works well for devices that have to move around, such as phones, tablets and to some extent laptops. However, for anything that tends to stay in one place (be it a desktop PC, laptop docking station, NAS, STB, games console, etc) I recommend cabled connectivity. Mesh networks have improved things somewhat in dense residential buildings (since the transmit power of the individual mesh nodes can be lowered), but with cabled networks you don't have to worry about competing for limited resources with your neighbours.

      Then again, I design and build cabled networks for a living, so I might be biased here. :-)

      1. hplasm
        Megaphone

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        WiFi usually works well for devices that have to move around, such as phones, tablets and to some extent laptops that are overspecced and owned by 'Execs' who think plugging in the CAT5 that is Right In Front Of Them is demeaning.

        Pah.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

          >who think plugging in the CAT5 that is Right In Front Of Them is demeaning.

          How many times do you reach for the mobile phone first, ignoring the desk phone right in front of you?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

            >How many times do you reach for the mobile phone first, ignoring the desk phone right in front of you?

            I think the issue with desk phones in a corporate environment is the time taken to get the Delorean upto 88mph

        2. Flightmode

          Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

          In office environments (remember those?) I've more or less given up, especially when in the modern, open-plan, free-seating, collaboration-cum-daycare setups. If people need to sit at different desks each day (or even move between "zones" during the day), bring their laptops to meetings et cetera, then a blanketing wireless hotspot network is a must. People who need access to specific environments or networks (e.g. testers, developers, people who need to simulate being customers...) would have dedicated pods with cabled networks dropped at those pods only. (This is never popular with office planners, but hey; what can you do?)

          My initial comment including the laptops was mainly thought for home situations. While I myself do most of my work-at-home in the same place at a dedicated desk for a little over 12 years, there's always that beautiful-but-let's-be-honest-really-too-chilly day in late March when you can bring a cup of coffee onto the balcony...

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "In office environments "

            Still, office environments are not the only environments where computers are used.

            And even in office environments there are situations where laptops are not issued to people because they aren't allowed to move the computer away, or the form factor is inadequate. While even fixed PCs can have WiFi, when they are usually positioned under desks, inside specific furniture, etc. WiFi is not exactly the best technology to ensure smooth and fast connections, unless external antennas are not placed properly.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: "In office environments "

              >While even fixed PCs can have WiFi, ... unless external antennas are not placed properly.

              Got a problem with one client - they invested in a bunch of nano USB WiFi adaptors - yes the adaptor says 802.11n but connection stability is only a given if the adaptor is within 3 metres of a WiFI AP, place it 6+ metres away...

    3. Flak
      Pirate

      Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

      A couple of years ago I spoke to a group of people from a university who had been sold on the idea of fibre to the desktop. There were about a dozen of us in the meeting room. I asked how many were connected to a wired port - the answer was zero!

      I accept that for specialist applications and devices, a wired connection is preferable. That may be high end fixed workstations with high bandwidth, low latency or high availability requirements. In terms of proportion of connected devices, my guess would be that this applies to <10% for most organisations. In some, it may be zero.

      The same plays out in the home. I have been working on the WiFi on my work laptop with countless videoconferencing meetings over the last 10 months as many others have, too. I don't need a wired connection for my use case, and most devices quite happily connect and perform adequately that way, including UHD streaming for the TV. The exception would be the X-Box (or gaming PC) where a wired connection is preferable - primarily to reduce latency so you avoid being dead, but you just don't know it yet!

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        The problem with WiFi is that every workstation that is connected to the WiFi router is sharing the bandwidth. So if you have several users in an office, that does not leave much bandwidth *per user* at any time that everone needs to access the company LAN at the same time, even if data usage is usually very modest.

        Plus I have found that on an industrial estate or business area, WiFi can sometimes become very slow or fail completely at random times - probably due to strong interference from outside the building. Even if the interference only lasts 5 minutes, it's not good when a customer phones in and is told, "Sorry I cannot access your account right now because our computers are down."

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "The exception would be the X-Box (or gaming PC)"

        And you didn't get latency issues with videoconferencing or VoIP calls over WiFi? It takes a few people to create latency issues but with some top of the line models or pro models that allow QoS with WLAN connections too.

        I had several examples of people working from home were a sudden traffic spike from their children crippled the WebEx calls.

      3. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        And there are those at university who are desperate to get FTTD because they're moving 50TB data sets around, but the university IT department have only just ratified the spec for 10GbE over cat 6a and still consider fibre is only for vertical infrastructure, same as it was 25 years ago when they ran 4 pair OM1 to every floor of the building labelling it as "future proof" and "suitable for beyond the expected life of the building".

    4. simpfeld

      Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

      Mantra should be: "Wire when you can. Wi-Fi when you have to"

      My TV doesn't move, wire that one (or a mains extender even).

      My phone/tablet needs to be Wi-Fi

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        Mantra should be: "Wire when you can. Wi-Fi when you have to

        Wire when you can

        WiFi when you have to

        Stream if you must

        That's a part of the plan...

        Apologies to our native son Dan Fogelberg...

      2. cornetman Silver badge

        Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

        We were lucky enough to move into a house that was pre-wired for networking and connecting things like set-top boxes and game consoles really is a must for reliable data.

        We do have wireless for our phones, but TBH I wire everything that I can primarily not for the speed, but for reliability.

        You don't need many people in the vicinity with their own WiFi networks to swamp the neighbourhood to the point that it is not very practical to use.

  3. Detective Emil
    Meh

    NIC?

    AFAICT, those devices that have a USB-C port do not have NIC behind it — if ther were, the datasheet should mention, or more likely, crow about it. Seems to me that this would be an obvious thing to do, because it would allow a connected laptop to use a single cable for power and network.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: NIC?

      I was thinking along the same lines. Would be interesting if integrated into a docking station rather than yet another box cluttering up my desk.

      1. hplasm

        Re: NIC?

        Dell laptops seem to go that way - just one USBC for everytihing.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: NIC?

          Dell laptops seem to go that way - just one USBC for everything.

          Indeed - I'm working on one right now. "Dock station" box tucked under the monitor riser, with monitor cable, various USBs (keyboard, mouse, headset, phone charge/connector cable), ethernet and power into it.

          One single USB-C cable coming out of it, into the Dell laptop. It's getting all the inputs plus power that way, and driving the monitor as a second screen going the other way. Works like a charm.

        2. eldel

          Re: NIC?

          HP as well. My work laptop is sitting next to me - a single USB-C cable from the dock. Drives a pair of 24" monitors, USB ports for headset, keyboard and mouse and an RJ45 to hook up to the office switch.

          I think that's a fairly standard arrangement for modern high(er) spec setups. Certainly seems to be reliable once you have the correct drivers in place.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: NIC?

      Yes having a full function USB-C port, or at least one that supports LAN would make sense, this omission suggests either Cisco didn't consult with real users (particularly users of MacBooks) or they assumed that laptop users would use (Cisco) WiFi for network access...

  4. mordac

    Pricing

    <quote>Cisco’s not revealed pricing for the devices but they are on sale now.</quote>

    How does that work then?

    1. Brian Scott

      Re: Pricing

      If you need to know the price then you can't afford it.

      Pretty much says it al about Cisco gear.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Pricing

        For a device they're suggesting people put on their desks, you'd think they'd have put some of the budget into aesthetics. They're ugly at any price.

        1. Jon 37 Silver badge

          Re: Pricing

          I thought that, but... two of the three are not intended to go on desks. They're intended to replace a Cat5 outlet, mounted half inside the wall, using a standard American back box. So the unpainted-metal- ugliness gets hidden inside the box, only the white part pokes out. And the fiber cable is hidden and protected inside the wall.

          The all-white one with USB-C is the only real "desktop" model.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Pricing

            Actually, those small modular ones are pretty nice... I presume the "hidden" RJ45s are "through" ports enabling the hub to run FROM PoE delivered by tapping into existing cat 5/6 cabling that the fibre will be replacing. That's a pretty neat idea! And adding that to the Catalyst management... actually that's really tempting and quite inventive. Neat.

            1. Down not across Silver badge

              Re: Pricing

              They're likely to also have usual Catalyst pricing so neat as it might be to use those (only in US since they're clearly designed for US socket backboxes to replace existing outlet), its not likely to be cheap. Having said that if you already run Catalyst environment and those integrate fairly seamlessly, that helps as managing infrastructure does have a cost.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Pricing

                Makes one wonder if it also has a Krone IDC termination point, which in my mind would make more sense.Trying to fit an RJ45 crimp plug to a solid core twisted pair cable is a hit and miss affair at best and hardly professional.

    2. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

      Re: Pricing

      It works in that you have to buy 120K worth of s/w to configure them and you get the switches free. Don`t forget the yearly maint. charges!!!!

      1. Boothy Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Pricing

        Also only one of the front ports will be active by default. You have to purchase additional licenses to unlock the other ports, which is on an annual subscription model.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spiral (Engrenages) Series 8

    Anyone else watching this? The main gang-leader is Cisco...

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000qzkq

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Spiral (Engrenages) Series 8

      Yeah. I thought that when watching the current series.

      They say it is the last series too.

      Shame.

  6. Lee D Silver badge

    I thought for a moment it meant a USB-C powered network switch. Which would actually be useful. I can't fathom why I'd want a network switch providing USB-C power only.

    Turns out Ubiquity do the former already, which is something I'd actually want in my laptop bag.

    https://www.ashbycomputers.co.uk/product/ubiquiti-usw-flex-mini-unifi-usw-flex-mini-5-port-smart-managed-usb-c-powered-gigabit-network-switch/

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      I have a thunderbolt dock which provides ethernet, 2 x display port at 4k60, 2 USB C, 3 USB A, and power, all on the same cable. Doesn't go in my laptop bag though, it stays on my desk.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      The Ubiquity hub is powered by either PoE (leaving 4 ports for user devices) or USB-C. It doesn't provide any PoE or USB-C power outlets for user devices. So given it's modest power demands, it and a power adaptor could fit in a laptop bag.

      The Cisco hub is obviously trying to limit the proliferation of desktop power outlets. However, as noted by others it is an ugly box to have on any desk outside of an electrical engineering lab.

      1. Evil Harry

        ... and it needs a software controller to configure it.

  7. Kane Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Any freebies included?

    Like, say, an NSA/CIA mandated backdoor?

    1. OhThatGuy
      Angel

      Re: Any freebies included?

      It's only Huawei that has that on offer, no US mfgs ;-)

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Any freebies included?

        To all the downvoters... woosh!

        1. Anon
          Coat

          Re: To all the downvoters... woosh!

          You /only/ get a whoosh with a Wotsit.

          (Crackly packet in the pocket.)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ugly!

    Why would anyone want that on their desk?

  9. macjules Silver badge

    Fibre to the desk?

    In my day that meant someone bringing you a nice bowl of Cornflakes if you got in early.

    1. Nick Pettefar

      Re: Fibre to the desk?

      Special-K?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Fibre to the desk?

        No, for those wanting REAL fibre it has to be All-Bran

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: Fibre to the desk?

          Brings a whole new mental image of "last mile fiber"

          Or maybe 2 new images...

          1. Ken Shabby

            Re: Fibre to the desk?

            and "laying a cable"

  10. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Yes, they're ugly.

    One desktop switch, copper & SFP uplinks, has USB-C power out to save on a wall warts.

    DIN mount, copper & SFP uplinks, just another option in the industrial range.

    Cable Duct. this is the new one, it allows dual fibre links all the way to the wall outlet.

    These replace the economy of scale found in high density UTP cabinet switch equipment by giving each outlet it's own redundant uplink path and a much lower impact from any individual device failure, The downside is an eye watering cost per outlet as the whole infrastructure has to be designed around them, diverse uplink paths from endpoint to multiple aggregation points are required to fully exploit this.

    As per the first post, high security & high value operations will be the target market, there's a limited pool of likely buyers but they do have the cash.

  11. pdh

    Approval?

    > not much bigger than [a] stack of five smartphones

    So is this a new official unit of measure? Reg Standards Bureau, we look to you...

  12. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

    I bought a tower plug thing the other day. It has USB ports which I was pleased with, but I couldn't find one with a built in ethernet switch, which was disappointing.

    This reminds me because it has network and usb.

    Why can't I buy something with all three?

  13. Marty McFly Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Launched a year too late...

    Not sure Cisco noticed... A huge percentage of the workforce just to sent to work remote. And they are not coming back to the big office. Ever.

    If the remaining office based users need more bandwidth, they will just toss a patch cable over the cube wall and pick their choice of empty desks to get bandwidth from.

    1. Rockets

      Re: Launched a year too late...

      Really depends on your industry. I work in mining and I can see a heap of uses for these switches on our sites and camps where we'd normally deploy a 10 port fanless Cisco 3560C connected back to a distribution switch via fibre. The 3560C's which are way overkill for what we need but the only real option for the use case. Think of a four room demountable housing unit in a camps where we need to deploy network & VoIP phones and these are ideal. Of course it depends on the cost per unit of these. But for most businesses that are cube farms I don't really expect these to take off there.

  14. Ringo Star

    cool. can't wait to pay £600 for a 4 port desktop switch...

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Do you think its on fire sale or something...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not enough ports for me

    My home setup consists of 2 desktops, 2 small NAS, 1 wireless router, 1 printer all wired. I don't know if cramming them on the same WiFi network with 3 laptops and 5 mobile phones would improve my computing experience. All can tell is that taking an image of a laptop and having it sent to NAS over wireless takes a pretty long time.

  16. Donn Bly

    New product? Hardly.

    Years (decades) ago 3Com had small POE-powered switches that you could duct mount. Nobody bought them because it was cheaper and better just to run more cable.

    Feature-wise, how are these products any better than the small switches that I currently use that have SFP ports as well as RJ45? Now, if it had SFP+ ports then I could see it, for those use cases I currently use some Ubiquiti switches like the Pro 24 and would love to have smaller, quieter options.

    1. Mixedbag

      Re: New product? Hardly.

      Indeed, not new. Huawei have had a fibre to the back of the desk device for quite a while

  17. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

    WiFi always sucks because it's gaining complexity faster than old bugs can be fixed. Every update adds one feature and breaks another. Even trivial things from 802.11a/b were fixed only a few years ago.

    WiFi - packet loss around 2% and doesn't always work.

    Ethernet - packet loss of 0% and always works.

  18. Jaap Aap

    Shouldn't you be able to power a laptop from PoE too?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is it called fiber to the desk? I don't see how fiber can be poe powered. Can you send power over fiber? No. Gigabit is also too slow. I don't see the point. Sharing a single gigabit link between multiple devices? Someone please explain this to me? I'm feeling stupid..

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Anon
    Meh

    All your packets are belong to us

    When did Cisco start supplying equipment that is not compromised?

    Other manufacturers may be /suspect/, but the USA's security forces have proven by their own actions that you can't trust anything made in the USA.

    Apart from we still love NASA.

  22. Paul Cascun
    Happy

    No speed is the lowest speed.

    Maybe I am missing something or is there an error in the printing on the unit with the 2 USB-C ports. From what I can see in the image provided the speeds offered are 0/100/1k.

  23. richdin

    Rebranded Mikrotik?

    I have fiber to my office into a little Mikrotik router and a bunch of Mikrotik 5 port switches in every room... about 50 bucks a pop. Total control ;-)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021