Huge Spike In Mobile Data Traffic Drives IEEE 400 Gigabit Ethernet Standard

When highways get clogged, one solution is to build more lanes, and by that same token IEEE has put together a study group to explore the development of a 400Gbps Ethernet standard to support the exponential growth in network demand.

"Traffic is growing everywhere—more Internet users, more ways to access the Internet more quickly, higher-bandwidth content, new applications enabled, etc.—and it’s critical that we move now to create a plan for the Ethernet ecosystem to evolve beyond today’s capabilities, in order to accommodate the burgeoning bandwidth tsunami," said John D’Ambrosia, chair of the new IEEE 802.3 400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group and chief Ethernet evangelist, CTO office, Dell.

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Contained in the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment report is a forecast that networks will need to support 58 percent compound annual growth rates on average. There are a number of factors at play, including an increase in users, an explosion of Internet connected mobile devices, access methodologies, increasing demand for streaming video, and social media. According to the report, networks will need to support capacity requirements of 1 terabit per second in 2015 and 10 terabits per second by 2020 if current trends continue.

"Ethernet is an arena of constant innovation, driven by the market demand for support of new ever-increasing bandwidth speeds, as well as new protocols, applications and media types," said Alan Weckel, vice president enterprise and data center market research at Dell'Oro Group. "Global bandwidth requirements are continuing to grow exponentially, and that makes it so important that the IEEE 802.3 standards community take proactive steps such as assessing needs and launching this study group. Standards-based solutions are integral to maintaining business growth across the Ethernet ecosystem."

IEEE is taking the approach that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which has worked well in the past. Standards work for 100G Ethernet, for example, began four years before it was ratified in 2010. During that time period, Facebook alone has grown from tens of millions of users to over a billion.