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Gigabit Ethernet: Hope vs. Hype

Can the Gig-Ethernet market, supporting storage services, really hit $44B by 2005? UPDATED 11/2 1:00pm

Use of gigabit Ethernet in service provider networks will grow eightfold by 2005 -- with nearly 30 percent of revenues coming from 10-Gbit/s links. But Ethernet must become "carrier ready" to reach its full potential.

So says a recent report from Pioneer Consulting. The firm says use of 1- and 10-Gbit/s Ethernet in access, metropolitan, and wide-area core networks will drive sales to carriers seeking lower-cost technologies to expand their facilities and offer new data-intensive services -- including those that enable enterprises to build storage networks across multiple sites.

Figure 1:
Source: Pioneer Consulting LLC

Industry sources bristle at Pioneer's projections, which estimate a gigabit Ethernet market of $44 billion by 2005. Even the most enthusiastic vendors in this market consider that figure excessive.

"The potential for metro optical Ethernet is large, but... I don't know what methodology they may have used," says Nan Chen, director of product marketing at Atrica Inc. and president of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), an industry group.

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