Salad Days for Ethernet

Carl Weinschenk

It looks as if the salad says for Ethernet are here. IDC says that revenue from Ethernet services in the United States will jump by almost half between last year and 2015. There are a number of drivers for the increase, which, in raw numbers, is predicted by the firm to be from $3.4 billion to $8.2 billion.

The carrier Ethernet equipment market is also hot. Infonetics Research reported late last month that it had increased its long-term forecast. The market, the firm said, will reach $40.2 billion by 2015, an increase of $2.7 billion over the previous estimate. Among the many details in the study is that the hottest area is the Ethernet switch segment. Though the overall trend was positive, the firm noted a downward change in the Ethernet microwave and VDSL segments.

Ethernet always has been a flexible platform. During the past decade, it has moved ever more fully from the local-area network (LAN) - offices and campus environments - into the wide-area network (WAN). Indeed, the IDC release says that Ethernet is winning due to its increasing domestic and international WAN use and as an alternative to leased lines. It is capable of transporting voice, video and a variety of other types of data, the company said. Another recent study - from Research and Markets - puts annual growth among major carriers at 75 percent to 125 percent.

Another reason the Ethernet segment is expanding is from Business 101: competition. A major new source is the cable industry, which has expertise in the sector - its in-home empire is built on Ethernet - and into WAN. The industry increasingly is targeting small and medium-size commercial accounts and cellular backhaul.

Cable's ascendency in Ethernet was pointed out by Terry Canning, senior vice president of Rogers Business Solutions. He told an audience at the Future of Cable Services conference in New York City that the industry has "a major opportunity to win enterprise business away from telcos," according to Light Reading. Canning said that the key is using cable's inherent advantage of having solid fiber networks in its residential neighborhoods. It must, however, overcome the challenge of a bad reputation and comparative lack of nationwide and international fiber networks.

Other good signs abound, such as the Global Capacity Market exchange for access platforms. Connected Planet reported last month that it is experiencing good times:

The company announced that Ethernet quotes made through the exchange had doubled in volume this year and that Ethernet quotes are expected to account for 40% of quote demand in 2012, up from less than 1% at the beginning of this year.

Ethernet proponents have been extolling its virtues for years. It seems that the market is beginning to respond - and it is a trend that is unlikely to reverse itself.

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