In a little under two months, at the IEEE 802 March 2013 Plenary, I will be leading a call for interest to begin work on the development of 400 Gigabit Ethernet. Once again, feeds-n-speeds. The seemingly never ending effort to go faster is continuing with the call to start 400 Gigabit Ethernet at the IEEE 802 March 2013 Plenary.
And let's not kid ourselves, with the on-going industry debate between 400GbE and Terabit Ethernet, the industry has resolved itself to the fact that it is not a question of whether Terabit Ethernet will ever be defined, it's simply a question of when.
For me though, in my role as chairman of the Ethernet Alliance, supporting the development and expansion of Ethernet beyond feeds-n- speeds is a primary responsibility. And it is interesting how things are currently playing out in the industry.
First of all, Ethernet, however, has always been thought of as a volume driver. With its history of being in every PC and on every laptop, Gigabit Ethernet is the model of success that comes to everyone's mind. Many wonder, however, with the move to smaller, thinner mobile tablet computers that rely on IEEE 802.11 wireless technologies and won't use the RJ45 connector. And while I spend a lot of my professional time making things go faster, I personally don't see the benefit yet for a faster connection for my laptop or tablet computer. Mobility is more important to me.
So, are Ethernet's high volume days behind it? While this is a reasonable question to ask, and one that the Ethernet community should be asking itself, I think the prediction of Ethernet's demise, as I have seen some editors predicting is, well, frankly, silly.
Not long ago, "everyone" was telling us how the economy had fundamentally changed, only because some day traders were raking in millions for a short period of time. But in that time, these pundits couldn't see that the free-for-all was a mere blip in history, and that the economy would soon stamp out those who provided no added value to it.
Today's blip is handhgeld gadgets, and the pundits seem to think that these handheld toys are all there is and all there ever will be in the future. So if a technology doesn't immediately apply to the toy, that technology is supposedly "in decline."
Ethernet speeds keep going up because the carriers are using Ethernet in place of SONET, for their trunk lines. And the demands for capacity of the trunk lines and in all manner of core ISP networks are still going up. As people migrate their TV watching to the Internet, I can only predict a more demand for bandwidth in core ISP networks. So there's no question in my mind that Ethernet has to continue to grow, and that 802.11 is simply a different discussion, for a different set of applications.
IEEE 802.11 is merely a last-few-meters connection link. It ain't the main event. It is cabled Internet networks that do the heavy lifting.
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