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GigE for Business is Well Within Reason
Once the unique domain of the telecom companies, Gigabit Ethernet is now something for corporate America.

Online technologies have been getting more and more resource demanding. Much of this is due to the sophistication of the applications, the move from plain text to graphical solutions, and the extensive use of video. The promise of improved productivity and additional sales opportunities are coming at a price. That price is increased WAN bandwidth requirements. Yesterday, ordering a T1 line was a big decision. Tomorrow you may be leasing a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

Gigabit Ethernet in business? Wow! We normally think of that kind of throughput, 1,000 Mbps, as needed for carrier backbones or interconnecting supercomputers. How would it apply to business situations?

The WAN Lags The LAN
Think about the corporate LAN. What started out as 10 Mbps Ethernet has been upgraded to 100 Mbps to the desktop and GigE over copper or fiber between wiring closets. You know that 10 Gigabit Ethernet isn't far off. It's just a matter of the production learning curve bringing the price down enough to spark mass adoption. So is GigE to the desktop.

The laggard in these increasing speed levels has been the WAN or Wide Area Network connection. You may have hundreds of employees on your networks at various plant sites and office complexes. Files zip around these nets without delay inside each facility. You may have already deployed enterprise VoIP solutions to converge your telephone and computer networks. But what happens when you try to send something outside? Are you still poking along with a 45 Mbps DS3 connection?

Smaller and medium size companies may wince at the thought of "poking" along at 45 Mbps. But when hundreds or thousands of employees are accessing the Internet as an essential part of doing their jobs, that DS3 can easily become a bottleneck. A few seconds delay here, a few seconds there. Pretty soon we're talking some serious lost productivity.

Cutting Edge Businesses are Bandwidth Hungry
The situation is more dire for companies on the cutting edge of HDTV video production, medical imaging, animation rendering, or CAD simulation. The WAN bandwidth between your company and your customer may well limit how much "product" you can ship in a day. Collaboration on product design can become an exercise in futility. The only way to make the operation of the tools invisible in the process is to take bandwidth limitations out of the loop.

In case you are still thinking that 1,000 Mbps WAN connections are way beyond reason, consider that South Korea is planning to bring Gigabit Ethernet to all Koreans within 5 years. They're looking at implementing this infrastructure as a strategic advantage for the country.

In the United States, such a public infrastructure is well down the road. But Gigabit Ethernet is here for business users, and prices have dropped dramatically over what they were a few years ago. Thanks to competitive service providers who now offer GigE connections on their own fiber optic networks and DS3 level connections over twisted pair copper, bandwidth upgrades are within reason for most companies.

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