What is Gigabit Ethernet

What is Gigabit Ethernet

This is a question being asked more frequently, now that the demand for bandwidth is continuing to grow in order to keep up with technological requirements of companies today.    To define Gigabit Ethernet in one sentence, “Gigabit Ethernet is a LAN technology, which supports data transfer at the speed (or rate) of one Gigabit per second.”   While the word Gigabit may be new to you and not yet appear to be related to speed, nothing could be closer from the truth.   Gigabit Ethernet equates to the transfer of date at 1000 Megabits per second or 1,000,000,000 bits per second.  Pretty fast huh?

Two commonly used acronyms to identify Gigabit Ethernet are GbE or 1GigE.

 

What are benefits of Gigabit Ethernet?

 

The primary benefit for converting over to gigabit Ethernet is for the increase in bandwidth for the running of applications and peripherials.    This gigabit transfer speed will allow for much improved performance and will help to eliminate bottle-necks that may have previously been experienced in a Fast Ethernet environment.    In order to stay in the game competitively, many companies utilize web conferencing and video conferencing, not to mention the support of a fully functional IP Telephony system which runs over their LAN environment, to support their daily operations.

 

Gigabit Ethernet also allows a company to keep up with bandwidth hungry applications with a relatively low cost of ownership.    In other words, the costs associated with implementing a gigabit Ethernet network is far outweighed by the immediate increase in speed and scalability for future growth.  I go into more detail in the article “Is Gigabit Ethernet Right For Me?

 

QoS, also known as “Quality of Service” is a feature supported by Gigabit Ethernet.   QoS is important for helping to avoid latency issues which will cause distortion in voice transmissions over a telephony system or with video transmission.  This is very important when both technologies are competing with data transmittal over the same network.

 

The History of Gigabit Ethernet

The initial inception of Gigbit Ethernet came about in 1998 when the IEEE adopted the standard known as 802.3z.  As the technology was in it’s infancy, the thought was that fiber optic transmission would be the only means of reaching the gigabit speed over an Ethernet technology.    Only a short year later, in 1999,  Gigabit Ethernet utilizing copper cabling was introduced.    This technology, also known as 1000BASE-T, allowed for the gigabit speeds to be transmitted over CAT-5 cabling.   This brought about a growing interest in the technology by IT departments, as their existing twisted-pair copper cabling investment could be utilized to run a Gigabit Ethenet network.

 

As over a decade has now passed, Gigabit Ethernet is an integral part of the discussion for IT departments around the globe, as they speak of their networking requirements for planning purposes.  And it does not stop there.   There is a 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard, which also exists.   This technology, for the most part, has been used as a WAN technology, but is now being seen more and more in a LAN environment.    Who knows what is coming down the road.   There is much speculation that we will see Terabit Ethernet (TbE) by the year 2015 and possibly 100 Terabit Ethernet  a few years after that. For now, Gigabit Ethernet should suffice, one would believe.

 

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