Ethernet is Everywhere – Pandemic 2020 Edition

By David Rodgers



Like most, I’ve been relegated to working from home since mid-March of this year.  Luckily, I have a home office setup where I typically worked from home 1 or 2 days a week before the shutdown mandate.  I had upgraded our internet service to 1Gb/s fiber connections a while back to accommodate our growing demand to support more streaming video services and plethora of “connected appliances”.

Our list of connected devices is like that of many in the Silicon Valley, includes smart TVs, iPhones and iPads, several IoT devices, my son’s Xbox, and of course, my work computer.  At any point in time in my little ecosystem, I count upwards of 15 or more devices in use in our home sharing bandwidth and connections to our broadband router, and some over the cell network.

I was on my annual fall vacation, looking for a hotspot in the Colorado Rockies to connect to the “outside world”, when it dawned on me how important is the underlying infrastructure we so often take for granted that is Ethernet!

My home networking installation leverages nearly all the possible Ethernet enabled communications transports the Ethernet Alliance tracks in its Ethernet Road Map and subcommittees.  Even the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth™ appliances we have, rely on wired Ethernet services to complete the connections to the content and applications they help deliver.  Our utility meter is Wi-Fi equipped now, saving the PG&E meter reader from encountering my ferocious beagles!

Beyond the epiphany that my home and life is well served by “all things Ethernet”, is the fact that since being relegated to my home, like the rest of the Valley workers, I’ve experienced no loss of internet service and no network congestion slowdowns.  I haven’t had to reboot or reset my broadband router.    I have not needed to reinstall or repair any of our connected devices because of a loss of communication or incompatibility between them. Everything is operating as it should. It all “just works”.

It is the lack of issues that enables us to take for granted the underlying transport protocol that is Ethernet.  I haven’t had to address any problems and therefore I don’t generally think about how things work when they are working.

As a test and measurement “geek”, I tend to look beyond the obvious and “under the hood” more than most. It’s part of my nature.  So when I really started thinking about my realization, it occurred to me the reason my home network operates seamlessly is the investment the Ethernet community has put into specification and interoperability testing, aided by the dedicated effort and commitment of the Ethernet Alliance and its member organizations.

One of the leading missions of the Ethernet Alliance is enabling forums and avenues for advancing interoperability. I’ve participated in many Ethernet Alliance sponsored interoperability test events and produced several of the Ethernet Alliance-hosted technology demonstrations at many trade shows.  I am pleased to say the equipment assembled at these events, often by market competitors, represents products and technologies spanning the entire Ethernet ecosystem. The amazing engineers and technicians who come together to support their products are committed to ensuring the latest Ethernet advancements “just work”.

2020 brought about a dynamic shift in all our lives, one that will have lasting effects on our collective future across all spectrums.  Millions of employees are working from home, connected to their Wi-Fi routers, accessing the company VPN, logging into their corporate network and doing their jobs.  We are hosting video conferences and webinars, virtualizing trade conferences and industry expositions.  After we are done with work for the day, date night at the movies has turned into going to the couch to stream the latest box-office releases.

The ability to stay connected and communicate with our peers and families, to feel we are still part of our communities and continue to be productive is resting on the ability of Ethernet to “just work”.

For more information about Ethernet initiatives and to review news of the ongoing work, please visit the Ethernet Alliance web site and keep on the lookout for announcements about upcoming interoperability events, more content, webinars, blogs and information.

David Rodgers

Test and Measurement (T&M) professional


David J. Rodgers is a seasoned Test and Measurement (T&M) professional with wide-ranging experience in serial communications protocol and interconnect validation, and a focus on Ethernet network and Fibre Channel fabric solutions where he has been defining, designing, deploying and marketing a broad range of high-speed serial analysis T&M products for SANs and LANs. David has 35+ years industry experience in bringing new computer technologies to market with a wide-ranging background in business, program management and product development of serial protocol T&M solutions. He is an original member of the USB Implementers Forum and one of the pioneer marketers of USB protocol analyzers. David represents EXFO for high-speed interconnect test technologies including Ethernet and Fibre Channel in various protocol industry groups such as IEEE, T10/T11 standards bodies, the Ethernet Alliance and the Fibre Channel Industry Association.

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