Terri Gimpelson: Debates have little space for cheerleading

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. recently authorized the formation of the 802.3ah Task Force, which is charged with the development of Ethernet in the First Mile. Initial plans involve developing two fiber-optic standards and one standard over voice-grade copper using a somewhat-conservative speed of 10Mbps over 2,500 feet.

While the task force wrestles with using different physical-layer interfaces such as 100Base-CU and very high-speed DSL, the industry will be bombarded with news releases, promotional pitches and general cheerleading from the EFM Alliance, whose formation was also recently announced.

According to the alliance, its sole responsibility is to promote industry awareness of the burgeoning standard and products supporting the standard. The alliance also claims to be contributing technical resources to the task force to help define EFM specifications and multi-vendor interoperability.

Well, wouldn’t it make more sense, as part of the 802.3ah Task Force, to perform all the above functions instead of convening yet another tiresome alliance?

Cisco Systems Inc. and Alloptic Inc., which are members of the 802.3ah Task Force, are also part of the alliance. While they duke out whose ideas are more suited for standardization behind task force doors, they claim to play friendly under the guise of the alliance by touting the standards effort, rather than letting the task force simply speak for itself.

Cheerleading on the sidelines adds a great dynamic to football games, but is it necessary in the game of high tech?

Gimpelson is a writer for Network World (U.S.). She can be reached at terri_gimpelson@nww.com.