100G Ethernet

100-GigE Not Coming Soon Enough

DALLAS -- Optical Expo 2007 -- Standards for 100-Gbit/s Ethernet don't look as if they'll arrive quickly enough, according to panelists at Light Reading's Optical Expo.

During the "Drive to 100-GigE" panel discussion this morning, speakers pointed to the standards process as one issue affecting the eventual development and deployment of 100-Gbit/s Ethernet technologies.

John Jaeger, global manager of business development at Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN), pointed to what he saw as "universal" carrier opinion that the 100-Gbit/s Ethernet standard would be late.

The lack of 100-Gigabit Ethernet "is already impacting service delivery today," Jaeger said. "As soon as the standard is ready, 100-Gigabit Ethernet will be link [aggregated]."

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standards process got delayed as the Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) members scuffled over the line rate for the next generation of Ethernet transport.

The group had settled on 100 Gbit/s as its choice but became divided when a minority of its members cried for the adoption of a 40-Gbit/s standard as well. This summer, the HSSG finally settled on a project that would include both rates. (See 100-Gig Ethernet Gets Official Nod, 40 GigE Could End Standards Spat, and 100-GigE, 40-GigE Live in Peace.)

Some, including Jaeger, believe the dual standard could delay the standardization of 100-Gbit/s Ethernet.

Dr. Milorad Cvietjic, vice president and chief technology strategist of NEC America Inc. 's Optical Network Systems Division, was even more adamant against the dual standard.

"I think it's unfortunate that we are defining 40G and 100G together," Cvietjic said, noting that a 100-Gbit/s standalone draft would probably be needed by the end of this year to meet carrier demand.

A dissenting opinion came from the panel's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) representative, Steve Trowbridge of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), who said he doesn't think the two line rates "being done together is going to delay the standardization process."

Standards aside, most panelists agreed that the adoption rate of 100-Gbit/s Ethernet will ultimately come down to cost. However, they disagreed on how that cost will be measured.

"The introduction of 100G will not be gated by 10G, but by 40G," said Joe Berthold, VP of network architecture at Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). In other words, Berthold believes 100-Gbit/s Ethernet adoption will come when equipment reaches cost parity with 40-Gbit/s gear.

Infinera's Jaeger disagreed, saying, "We don't want to comp 100G to 40G, but to 10G."

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Optical Expo 2007, a conference and exhibition that will explore critical issues facing the optical networking industry. To be staged in Dallas, October 2 & 3, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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