Ethernet Alliance

Ethernet Alliance Blog

IEEE Extends EPON into New Markets

By Howard Frazier

Standards for Ethernet Passive Optical Networks (EPON) reached an importantmilestone last week when the IEEE approved a new standard for Service Interoperability in EPON (SIEPON). The IEEE 1904.1 SEIPON standard includes mechanisms for quality of service and bandwidth assignment, multicast, VLAN and tunneling modes, software download, and authentication. It also provides support for power saving modes and optical fiber protection mechanisms.

 This is significant because until now, network operators have had to define their own specifications for these mechanisms, which has resulted in the creation of numerous, potentially incompatible solutions. The three year effort of the IEEE 1904.1 SIEPON Working Group documented the best of these solutions, based on field experience with EPON deployments around the world.

 1Gb/s EPON is a highly successful Ethernet-based subscriber access network technology, with over 100 million subscriber attachments worldwide.  It’s successor, 10Gb/s EPON, provides the highest symmetric bandwidth among all available FTTx solutions and is slated to enter commercial deployments in the second half of this year. The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group is currently in the process of developing a standard for EPoC, which supports operation of the EPON protocol over coaxial cable distribution networks.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

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What is Ethernet: The existential question for The Ethernet Alliance

By Hugh Barrass

Along with Scott Kipp, I’ll be presenting the webinar: Ethernet 101 – Introduction to Ethernet (June 27th at 9am Pacific ). This will give you a high level overview of the history, the breadth and the future of Ethernet, but before we get to that point, many of you will have asked the basic question, “What is Ethernet?”

This question can be asked and answered on many levels. 

Firstly, Ethernet is a historical fact – 40 years ago, back in 1973, Bob Metcalfe sent a memo describing what he called “Ethernet.” So it completes the circle to have him giving the keynote at the upcoming “Future of Ethernet” Technology Exploration Forum on October 15, 2013. However, the Ethernet of 1973 is very different to the Ethernet of today. Back then it was a way for a number of computers to talk using a shared coaxial cable; it was 10,000 times slower than today’s Ethernet; and it was too unpredictable to run reliable services (such as voice or video) – two computers talking at the same time would cause a (literally) random delay for the network. Whatever Ethernet was, today it is clearly much, much more than that.

Many people (including me, sometimes) will tell you that Ethernet is a standard. In the latest revision, IEEE 802.3 changed its official title from the incomprehensible (& slightly misleading) “Part 3: Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Access Method and Physical Layer Specifications” to “IEEE Standard for Ethernet.” It couldn’t be more definitive than that … Except that IEEE 802.1 is often referred to as “Ethernet Switching,” and the ever popular “Ethernet modules” that we all know and love are defined outside of realm of the IEEE 802.3 standard. It’s clear that Ethernet is a standard, but it is also an ecosystem built around that standard.

So that gives us the history, the standard and the ecosystem – but there’s still something missing. Over the years there have been rivals that have challenged Ethernet on its own turf – from Token Ring, through ATM & many others – yet Ethernet has not simply fought them off, it has expanded into more and more applications and environments. There must be a reason why leaders in so many fields have brought Ethernet into their domains: There is an ethos behind Ethernet; an approach to problems that yields solutions which are good for the whole food chain – from the supplier to the user. Ethernet is an open standard; it creates a level playing field for innovators; but most important of all, Ethernet takes the simplest approach to solve the problems it faces – to paraphrase Albert Einstein: “it is as simple as it can be and no simpler.”

We hope that you can attend the Ethernet 101 webinar in person on June 27th, but if you can’t, the webinar will be available on the Ethernet Alliance website with the other webinars in the series.

By Hugh Barrass

Technologist, Cisco

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

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Ethernet 101: Introduction to Ethernet Webinar Coming

By Scott Kipp

I’m dedicating the upcoming webinar to the newbies out there who want to learn about Ethernet in an hour.  I’ll be presenting this webinar with Hugh Barrass on June 27th at 9am Pacific.  Hugh and I both develop IEEE 802 standards and will give a high level overview of Ethernet.

We’ll start the webinar by briefly talking about the early days of Ethernet when companies wanted to connect a few workstations to a printer at 10Mb/s.  These early network shared one coaxial cable and met the needs of these early users before the Internet even existed.  Ethernet evolved into switched networks where the power of the network grew with the interconnection of many more devices, new applications and eventually the Internet. 

Now Ethernet is the most widely deployed network and speeds along from 100 Mb/s to 100Gb/s and we’re working on 400GbE now in the IEEE standards.  Ethernet has grown in many ways more than just speed.  From increasing reliability to enabling quality of service (QoS), Ethernet has enabled many new applications and deployments continue in brave new areas.

A couple of the new application spaces for Ethernet that will be discussed are automotive and cable television networks.  The main standard for automotive applications that is being developed now is called Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet PHY to send Gigabit Ethernet over a single pair of wires in a car or bus to replace the various wire harnesses in a car.  The EPON Protocol over Coax (EPOC) takes Ethernet back to its roots by using cable television’s coaxial cables to transmit Ethenet to the home.  These two applications could result in hundreds of millions of new Ethernet ports by the end of the decade.

I want to stress that we’ve made this Ethernet 101 webinar very high level so that we can reach a wider audience.  The webinar is intended for viewers interested in information technology who aren’t familiar with various aspects of Ethernet.  The webinar shows how most personal computers and servers are connected to the LAN and how the LAN connects to the Internet via a router.  The Introduction to Ethernet webinar will not dive into technical details and will tell the story of Ethernet.

The Ethernet Alliance aspires to be the voice of Ethernet by educating the community on what Ethernet does and what it will be able to do in the near future.  The Ethernet community recently celebrated its 40th birthday and this webinar will help explain what Ethernet can do for you today and over the next 40 years. 

We hope that you can attend the webinar in person on June 27th, but if you can’t, the webinar will be available on the Ethernet Alliance website with the other webinars in the series.

By Scott Kipp

President of the Ethernet Alliance

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

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