• United States

Why do we need an Ethernet Alliance?

Jan 10, 20062 mins

* Ethernet Alliance formed

Today marks the official debut of the Ethernet Alliance. If you’re thinking, “Say what?” you’re not alone.

As my colleague Phil Hochmuth noted in his story on, it seems odd that a technology as ubiquitous as Ethernet needs any kind of alliance to help market it.

There have been past alliances – vendor groups that join together to market a specific standard and provide a place for interoperability testing. A decade ago the Fast Ethernet Alliance helped the standard we know today as 100 Mbps Ethernet triumph over 100VG-AnyLAN and ATM. The Gigabit Ethernet Alliance helped convince the world it needed gigabit rates, and the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance tried to do the same for the higher-speed technology.

So why just Ethernet now? Hasn’t the battle already been won?

The Ethernet Alliance’s Web site says that the group’s mission is “to promote industry awareness, acceptance, and advancement of technology and products based on both existing and emerging IEEE 802 Ethernet standards and their management.”

Further, the group is made up of “system and component vendors, industry experts, and university and government professionals who are committed to the continued success and expansion of Ethernet technology.”

Basically, there are still areas where Ethernet has not won out, and this group would help steer Ethernet toward those areas. Plus, any new, even higher-speed standards could be championed by such a group.

The list of principal members includes 3Com, Agere Systems, Broadcom, Force10 Networks, Foundry Networks, Intel, Pioneer, Quake Technologies, Samsung, Sun, Tyco Electronics and Xilinx. Other founding members include ADC, Aquantia, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Tehuti Networks, and the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory.

There are some really big names in Ethernet that are missing from this list. They are so obvious I doubt I even have to mention them here. Will they have to join for the group to be successful? Time will tell.