IEEE’s 802.3BZ Task Force Mediates MGBASE-T and NBASE-T AlliancesDelia Hernandez
The Ethernet Alliance has recently announced that it will finally be pursuing the official standardization of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet. The study group, officially known as the IEEE P802.3bz 2.5/5GBASE-T Task Force, has already begun drafting the first standard.
The IEEE 802.3bz standard will not only create two new Ethernet speeds, but will also support energy-efficient Power over Ethernet (PoE). With PoE, network administrators will be able to deploy networks that don’t need additional electrical power circuitry. This simplifies deployment of many network applications such as IP Cameras, VoIP Phones, and wireless access points.
NBASE-T vs. MGBASE-T
Computer networking manufacturers have been racing to create a pre-standard with Cisco most notably supporting the NBASE-T Alliance and Alcatel-Lucent spearheading the MGBASE-T Alliance. Even though different manufacturers supported separate alliances, the alliance’s press release delineates common goals.
But Technology Blogger Sebastian Anthony observed at the time that “It actually seems like both alliances plan to commercialize their own tech, attempt to popularize it, and then try to get IEEE to recognize their standard as the winner…ostensibly they’re both doing the right thing, but it really would be better if they joined forces and did it together…”
The fear associated with the existence of two separate alliances arises from the potential for vendor disputes to occur. With different manufacturers supporting different affiliations, these alliances could easily end up in opposition. Protracted dispute among vendors prolonged the ratification of the 802.11n standard to seven long years. But it seems that the formation of two separate alliances did not prove counterproductive after all.
In actuality, the formation of two alliances accelerated the standardization process. Dave Chalupsky, chair of IEEE’s P802.3bz task force and network architect at Intel Corporation, reported in IEEE’s press release that “Swift achievement of consensus among participants has enabled the task force to move immediately into the next phase of the project, drafting initial specifications.”
These two alliances have not completely disintegrated and considering that the standard is still in its initial changes, it might be a pre-mature victory for the task force— a legitimate victory nonetheless. The NBASE-T alliance reports that “Something that was expected to take months to complete was instead approved in record time”. The alliance expects an additional 18-24 months to finalize the standard.
To learn more about IEEE’s standardization process, click here.