Emergence of Ethernet as Carrier Technology

Ethernet Technology consists of devices and tools used to create and operate an ethernet network located in a local area (over a LAN). Among these devices and tools exist Internet standards such as Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (also 40 or 100 Gigabit Ethernet).

While hubs and cables are required to operate an ethernet network, the processes themselves operate based on megabit or Gigabit Ethernet data speeds.

Today we are witnessing explosive growth of data communication facilitated by expansion and proliferation of Internet access across the globe. Large number of video and real time applications like YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp etc is creating big hunger for bandwidth to be provisioned within shortest possible time.

Considering this gigantic requirement, the natural question which comes to our mind is “what is the common technology feature which supports such unprecedented growth of data? “

The most common answer is “Ethernet”.

Ethernet technology was developed in 1973, however commercial use of Ethernet started in early 1980s.

Initially Ethernet was considered as Local Access Network (LAN) technology for supporting interconnection of computers in same building or small campus. First medium used for connecting devices was co-axial cable.

However, due to difficulty faced in implementation, Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) became popular.

Initially Ethernet technology started with bandwidth rate of 10 Mbps, which subsequently increased to 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet (FE). Later development resulted in Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and today we have 100 Gigabit Ethernet deployed commercially in the network.

Don’t we feel amazed by phenomenal development of this technology over small span of about 25 years!!!

So, what are the key drivers for this rapid evolution?

World has witnessed huge increase in bandwidth demand for both personal and commercial communication purpose.

During 1980s and 90s Ethernet was considered as LAN technology only and popular Wide Area Network (WAN) technologies were – Point to Point Leased Line, Frame Relay, ATM etc.

These WAN technologies were capable of supporting requirements ranging from few Mbps to 100 Mbps.

During later part of 1990s, enterprise applications started demanding bandwidth of more than 100 Mbps and existing WAN technologies were not capable of supporting such requirements.

Also, Internet was growing rapidly during this period and Carriers were struggling to support exponentially increasing bandwidth demand of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Evolved Ethernet Technology was answer to all such requirements.

Telecom World witnessed development of standards for Gigabit Ethernet and subsequent upgrade to 100 Gigabit level.

Large number of devices were started to be manufactured with Ethernet interface in both personal and enterprise segment. Telecom vendors across the world started manufacturing carrier equipments with 10 Gigbit Ethernet, 40 Gigbit Ethernet and 100 Gigbit Ethernet interfaces.

The major factors contributing to phenomenal growth of Ethernet are – being cost effective, easy to configure and increase bandwidth, scalability and flexibility, protocol neutrality, enhanced reliability and availability etc.

Today, Ethernet has become undisputed leader in the field of Telecommunication carrier segment. In carrier grade technology, 10Gigbit Ethernet, 100Gigbit Ethernet traffic is transmitted using Optical Fiber medium.

Combination of Ethernet and dark fiber is able to transmit huge data from interfaces like Gigabit Ethernet, 10Gigabit Ethernet etc to distances travelling across globe using optical transport technology like WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing).

We are also witnessing large scale deployment of Carrier Ethernet (CEN) equipments in North America, Europe and parts of Asia to support major network upgrade for supporting Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) technologies like LTE, WiMax, Wi-Fi, 3G etc. According to an estimate, demand for Ethernet devices is expected to grow at 48% in coming few years.

Growth story of Ethernet is still not ready to slow down and world has already started working on future version of Ethernet. Companies like Google and Facebook have expressed the need of Terabit Ethernet (TbE). IEEE has already set up 400 Gb/s Ethernet study group on next generation Ethernet standard.

From all these developments, it can be concluded that “Ethernet Technology” is going to rule the data communication world without any challenge for next decade as well.

Ethernet Technology in the News

The Ethernet Technology Summit (ETS) was held on April 2-4, 2013 in Santa Clara, California and was held to discuss issues such as 40 Gigabit Ethernet, 100 Gigabit Ethernet, and 400 Gigabit Ethernet.

Just last month, Ethernet Technology Summit announced a 25% year-on-year increase in its attendance, having started just four years ago (2009).

Key speakers at Ethernet Technology Summit were from companies such as Mellanox, Dell, Cisco, Huawei, and Ethernet Alliance. Topics covered include Ethernet convergence, cloud computing,

On May 30, 2013, carrier Verizon Wireless increased its Private IP service to 100 Gigabit Ethernet. It will still offer 1 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet service for its customers, remaining faithful to earlier promises and ethernet technology.

Hyundai and Broadcom to Implement Ethernet Technology in Vehicles

Car manufacturer Hyundai and telecom company Broadcom have reached an agreement as of October 2012.

The two companies intend to place Ethernet technology speeds of up to 100Mbps (and later, 1 Gbps) into Hyundai vehicles. The new technology will be called BroadR-Reach. While there is no word on which Hyundai models will have the new ethernet technology, the agreement is binding between the two companies.

One-Pair Ethernet Alliance (OPEN) to Push Ethernet Technology in Vehicles

The One-Pair Ethernet Alliance (OPEN) is a collection of car manufacturers that, similar to Hyundai, want to implement ethernet technology in vehicles.

As of October 2012, there were 81 companies that have signed up for OPEN — an achievement considering that OPEN has only been alive and running for a year and a half. OPEN will rely on BroadR-Reach ethernet technology, just like Hyundai. Some of the new members (having been a part of the One-Pair Ethernet Alliance for only a year include):

  • ASL Vision
  • Daimler
  • Ford
  • General Motors
  •  Honda
  •  Myson Century
  • Nissan
  • Wurth Elektronik
  • Veryx Technologies
  • Volvo Group Trucks
  • Gebauer & Griller
  • Delphi Automotive