Jun 26, 2017
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What’s the Right Cisco SFP? How SFP-GE-T & GLC-T Differ

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One of the biggest benefits of the SFP/SFP+ transceiver standard is that it makes it possible for one piece of networking hardware to support several varying cabling standards. For instance, instead of having to install a completely new switch, you can simply trade optical transceivers as both can handle a different type of cabling or connector.

There is a catch, though: there are so many different SFP transceivers for Cisco and other manufacturers, and there are small differences between all of them. Even the most experienced person needs to research tech sheets in order to determine which option will work the best.

As such, we are often asked, “Is there a difference between SFP-GE-T and GL-T standards?”

The answer: “Not really.”

Separating Cisco SFP-GE-T and GLC-T SFP Formats

On the surface, both formats are a lot of like, and in most cases, they are interchangeable.

Both SFP-GE-T and GLC-T SFP Formats are:

  • 1000BaseT
  • RJ45-Based
  • Can be used with up to 100m Ethernet cables
  • A Gigabit-speed with 10/100 compatibility
  • Can be used in the same ranges of temperature (0-70C)

As you can see, they are both pretty basic Gigabit Ethernet SFP ports, which means that both should work well as a standard GbE cabling. In fact, 99% of Cisco network operators would be able to use either without an issue.

So, what’s the difference? SFP-GE-T conforms to NEBS Level 3 standards. This leads us to the next most obvious questions:

NEBS Level 3 Defined

An acronym for Network Equipment Building System, NEBS is a collection of standards that is used to build equipment used for networking. It has the ability to resist several naturally-occurring stresses. NEBS is usually only applicable in telecoms and other types of providers that offer a high level of service.

Some of the benefits of NEBS Level 3 include:

  • Resistant to fire
  • Has thermal margins
  • Offers acoustic limits
  • Providers adequate airflow
  • Resistant to vibrations
  • Failover abilities
  • Prevents damage before a failure

Essentially, NEBS Level 3 SFP transceivers are considered “ruggedized-lite,” which means that they have the ability to handle high levels of stress with a reduced chance of failure. As a result, they are more reliable in applications where higher levels of stresses, and therefore failure, may occur. It should be noted, however, that this does mean that NEBS-ready SFP-GE-T Cisco Transceivers are more costly than GLC-T options.

This is the only significant difference between the two that is worth highlighting.

Should I Choose SFP-GE-T Transceivers to be on the Safe Side?

To be honest, no. If you are working with a provider, such as a telecom, that requires compliance with NEBS, the provider will let you know. The type of issues that NEBS safeguards against are mostly in “edge case” regions. In other words, if a fire or an earthquake breaks out, you are likely going to have other much more important things to tend to than whether or not your SFP optical transceivers will still work.

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