Gigabit Ethernet fast but stays close to home

The problem with 10-gigabit Ethernet, according to Lauri Vickers, senior analyst with the data and voice networking group at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Cahners In-Stat Group, is that although it is going to be one of the fastest technologies available, when using multimode fibre, distance is limited.

In response to this problem, New York-based ITT Industries, Network Systems & Services (NS&S) recently launched a 10-gigabit plus fibre-optic cabling solution, which the company said allows a high-bandwidth, scalable backbone made up of both multimode and singlemode fibres. The company said the multimode fibre-optic cable complies with the new ISO/IEC OM3 (Optical multimode) standard.

According to Jonathan Blitt, president of the Americas of ITT Industries, NS&S in New York, OM (optical multimode) is a category of speed for fibre. Blitt said that OM3 is the newest standard of fibre speed that can carry gigabit Ethernet across a greater distance.

“The difference (with our solution) is that it is an OM3 fibre,” Blitt said. “The reason it is so interesting is that, in the way data networks were designed, if there was some distance in the network, the only option had been to use singlemode fibre.”

Vickers said singlemode fibre, though a better choice for transmitting data over distances, is not only in very short supply now, but is significantly more costly than multimode fibre.

The company said that the 10-gigabit plus fibre-optic cabling solution provides 2GHz bandwidth fibre channel and guarantees data transmission from 10Mbps to 10Gbps and uses low-cost 850nm opto-electronics. The solution also extends transmission distances of 1,000 metres for gigabit Ethernet allowing for various routing designs and network resilience.

“We have taken a product and developed it in a way that makes it reasonably priced and can deliver gigabit Ethernet over one kilometre, and 10-gigabit Ethernet over 300 metres,” Blitt said. “If you used this high-bandwidth fibre in an office environment, you can now not only deliver gigabit Ethernet further, but you can also deliver 10-gigabit Ethernet over that same backbone.”

Blitt said the solution works with any type of connectivity and is designed for medium- to large-sized companies that are looking to save money on the architecture of their network and where distance is an issue.

“Gigabit Ethernet is definitely growing,” Vickers said. “The economic slowdown has hit us, but at the same time…when you look at gigabit Ethernet overall, there was only a two per cent decline in revenue and a one per cent growth in ports (in Q1 of this year). The market is fairly impervious to the slowdown.”

Blitt noted that in the past, when transmitting data from one location to another over any distance, the Ethernet protocol had to be changed in order to send it across the distance and changed back when it reached its destination.

“Gigabit Ethernet is the premise of ‘lets take Ethernet as a protocol and send it a further distance,'” he said. “The market for it is huge. It is as big as anyone who has computers and at some point, major companies will migrate their Ethernet to gigabit Ethernet.”

The 10-gigabit plus fibre-optic cabling solution is available now and Blitt estimates that pricing will be approximately 20 per cent more than last year’s OM2 fibre. For more information, visit ITT Industries NS&S at