Momentum Builds for 100 Gbps Ethernet

Carl Weinschenk

Parents, corporate CIOs and telecommunications planning executives all recognize that the future seems to arrive more quickly than anticipated. The topic of this Light Reading report on the timing of the evolution of Ethernet to 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) seems far off.


Clearly, it's prudent to pay attention. After all, very smart people are. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is. So are organizations such as Infinera, Finisar, Internet2, Level 3 and UCSC. So is cable industry vendor Narad Networks.


That's because 100 Gbps Ethernet may not be all that far off. At OFC/NFOEC, Seimens Networks said it had run transmissions at 100 Gbps -- 111 Gbps, to be precise -- over 2,400 kilometers using existing 10 Gbps dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) gear. The bottom line behind all the numbers and jargon is that the company has taken a significant step toward commercial 100 Gbps transmissions.


The premise of the Light Reading piece is that if the planets align in a certain way the current generation of Ethernet networks being deployed -- which run at 40 Gbps -- may be short-circuited in favor of 100 Gbps. As usual, it all comes down to price and competitive positioning. If the multiples of cost between 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps favor the faster speed, it will win out. Likewise, if 100 Gbps gear is favorably priced on a per-bandwidth basis compared to 40 Gbps, the latter's lifespan may be shortened.


Ethernet -- the same basic protocol that carriers voice, video and data on corporate local-area networks -- is a growing factor in the telecommunications network. Clearly, in any way suggesting the demise of 40 Gbps gear before its deployment is anywhere near complete is a stretch. But the fact that so many organizations are thinking about the next step shows how quickly the landscape can change.

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