Going Gigabit

Gigabit Ethernet is growing fast, and 10Gbps Ethernet will soon follow, according to a recent report by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Cahners In-Stat Group. According to the report, “Gigabit Ethernet and the Power of Ten”, gigabit Ethernet sales should expand from just under US$2 billion in 1999 to more than US$20 billion in 2004, with 10Gbps Ethernet growing from US$11 million in 1999 to more than US$4 billion in 2004.

“If you don’t have some gigabit Ethernet somewhere, there’s something wrong with that,” says report author and senior analyst Lauri Vickers.

The report states a number of factors will drive companies to implement gigabit and faster network technologies, including the bandwidth requirements of customer relationship management tools, voice and video over the LAN, and expanded Internet use. Corporate use of storage area networks and metropolitan area networks (MANs) will also demand the ever-faster speeds that 1Gbps and 10Gbps Ethernet can provide.

In the near term, the bulk of that speed will come from 1Gbps Ethernet across copper, which allows companies to continue using their existing Category 5 wiring and is backward compatible with existing standards. The 10Gbps Ethernet market will also grow, but more slowly, because 10Gbps Ethernet will require fibre connections, meaning new infrastructure. As a result, the report indicates that 10Gbps Ethernet will first make headway (outside of specialized LAN applications such as storage networks) in MANs and eventually migrate to wide area networks as companies decide to link existing metropolitan locations.