The Voices of Ethernet

The Voices of Ethernet

The Ethernet Alliance has launched an oral-history archive called the Voices of Ethernet that narrates Ethernet technology’s journey from its inception in 1973 to what it is today. The purpose is to preserve Ethernet history for future generations through a collection of oral interview recordings with the pioneers of Ethernet. The history shares engaging personal accounts of pivotal events and crucial milestones that remain largely unknown.

This piece takes a deep dive into lists the benefits that Ethernet technology provides for businesses and organizations.

What Is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a revolutionary technology that connects multiple devices in a wired local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN) to enable ease of communication with each other via a set of rules or common network language. Ethernet provides a way for network devices to format and transmit data, allowing other devices on the same LAN to recognize, receive, and process that information. Ethernet typically provides high speed, enhanced security, and reliability, making it ideal for organizations using local networks such as school campuses, company offices, and hospitals.

What Is the Ethernet Alliance?

The Ethernet Alliance is a worldwide, non-profit independent organization that aims to ensure Ethernet technologies’ continued success and development. The Ethernet Alliance was incorporated in the U.S. in 2005 and launched in 2006 as an industry consortium to support and promote Ethernet technology.

Ethernet Alliance Logo

One of the objectives of the Ethernet Alliance is to act as a premier global repository for all things Ethernet so that anyone or any organization interested in Ethernet can be abreast with real-time advancements and innovations. To achieve this, the Ethernet Alliance is providing the industry with a platform for the open exchange of ideas and discussions aimed at building consensus that aids increased advancement and adoption of Ethernet technology around the globe. The Ethernet Alliance also operates a marketing wing driven by the following objectives:

  • Expansion of the Ethernet ecosystem.
  • Support Ethernet advancements through standards.
  • Promote Ethernet adoption in existing and emerging markets.

The Ethernet Alliance has started an ongoing oral history referred to as the Voices of Ethernet, featuring video interviews with key players in Ethernet history and development, such as Robert Metcalfe.

Who Are the Voices of Ethernet? 

The Voices of Ethernet has spoken history that transcends beyond the typical historical records of who, what, when. It engages the real people behind Ethernet’s story to capture unique details never recorded. The Voices of Ethernet features interviews with the fathers of Ethernet, including Robert M. Metcaffe, Gary Robinson, and Bob Grow. They narrate the history of the technology’s journey from its inception in 1973 at the Xerox PARC to what it is today. The following is a summary of the history of the Ethernet cable categories as captured in the Voices of Ethernet and other sources:

  • Robert M. Metcaffe at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center conceived Ethernet in 1973. The first version, 10BASE5, was supported by thick copper cables. This was a stiff cable of about a half inch in diameter. Soon after, the 10BASE2 version came along using a more flexible cable.
  • The late 1980s saw the emergence of the Ethernet hub and the switch that allowed twisted pair copper cables to be used as the main medium for supporting the Ethernet
  • In 1989, cabling product distributor Anixter developed the “Levels” program. This was the first ever written performance specification for data cabling systems. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) ratified it as Category 3 standards-based category cable. Category 4 and Category 5 cabling standards followed Category 3. However, they are all now defunct and aren’t recognized within cabling standards.
  • In 2001, Category 5e and six cabling standards were ratified. Category 5e offered better crosstalk performance to support gigabit speeds. Category 6 offers more headroom to support 10 GB/s of up to 35 meters only.
  • In 2009, Category 6A was ratified. It supports 10 Gb/s to 100 meters and is still the most recommended cable standard for horizontal LAN deployments.
  • In 2010 and 2013, the ISO/IEC ratified Category 7 and 7A, respectively. Category 7A is an ideal cabling medium for supporting 10 Gb/s.
  • In 2016, Category 8 was ratified. The cabling medium’s design was to support 40 Gb/s in 30-meter data center switch-to-server links. However, it didn’t take off as expected due to power consumption issues in active equipment.

Ethernet Cable Timeline

Power over Ethernet (PoE) — Now the Most Popular Ethernet Standard

Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology relies on IEEE 802.3af, 802.3at, and 802.3bt standards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. These standards provide guidelines on how networking equipment must operate to encourage device interoperability. 

Unlike other standards, Power over Ethernet (PoE) allows Ethernet cables to transmit power and data concurrently using a single network cable. This enables the deployment of powered devices in places with zero electrical circuitry. This removes the cost of installing extra electrical wiring that requires stringent conduit regulations to be followed. 

PoE technology transmits 10/100/1000 Mbps of data and 15W, 30W, 60W, and 90W simultaneously to devices using Ethernet cables for up to 100m distance. PoE-capable devices can be powered devices (PDs), power sourcing equipment (PSE), or both. The powered device is PD and the one transmitting power is the PSE. Generally, PSEs can either be PoE injectors used with non-PoE switches or network switches.

Contact Versa Technology for All your PoE Needs

Versa Technology is the leading provider of last-mile networking solutions to IT professionals and companies in South America, China, Europe, Australia, South East Asia, Africa, and other regions. We leverage cutting-edge technology and vast expertise to develop products that support various networking applications in diverse networking environments. 

We provide a range of PoE networking devices and products that allows you to leverage existing infrastructure to experience high-speed connectivity. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Versa encourages you to read the Voices of Ethernet for interesting background  information.