What the NBASE-T And MGBASE-T Alliances Don’t Want You To Know

N-BASE T vs MG Base T

What the NBASE-T And MGBASE-T Alliances Don’t Want You To Know

Before you retire your 802.11n router, have you taken into consideration that the standard took 7 long years to finally reach completion?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) had to appease a group of 400 participants comprised of competing manufacturers, engineers, and academic institutions from around the world in order to finally approve the standard. Because the IEEE addresses all comments and appeals, the standardization process turned into a protracted dispute among vendors.

But it seems history is bound to repeat itself.  The formation of two independent and competing alliances, NBASE-T and MGBASE-T, have started producing protocols for 2.5 G and 5G Ethernet without IEEE’s jurisdiction.

Competition between these two alliances can turn into another 802.11n episode of vendor warfare.

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IEEE’s standardization process resembles a democratic bureaucracy where competing companies can bring a standard to a gridlock, as occurred in the case of the 802.11n ratification process. Though standardization is a lengthy process, it ensures maximum compatibility and protects consumers by ensuring that devices from different vendors can operate with each other.

Nevertheless, IEEE doesn’t prevent companies from manufacturing products based on draft standards or from manufacturing proprietary technology that does not adhere to IEEE’s standards. But it’s in a company’s best interest to manufacture networking equipment that meets certification standards to warrant customer trust in their networking equipment.

MGbase-T vs Nbase-T
The NBASE-T and MGBASE-T alliances are both addressing a market need for 2.5G and 5G Ethernet that would enable networks to keep their existing copper infrastructure to adopt faster Wi-Fi equipment.

But Technology Blogger Sebastian Anthony notes:

“Both of these “alliances” are made up of big players — Cisco is heading up NBASE, while Broadcom is over in the MGBASE camp — but neither are ratified  by the IEEE…Neither group is promising interoperability with each other… It actually seems like both alliances plan to commercialize their own  tech, attempt to popularize it, and then try to get the IEEE to recognize their standard as the winner.”

The MGBASE-T Alliance began recruiting participants June and the NBASE-T alliance followed suit in September. Both alliances claim that they are creating IEEE-friendly protocols.MGvsNbaseT-comparison

The Chair of the Ethernet Alliance Board of Directors, John D’Ambrosia, welcomes the competition stating that “While the goal is to have a single specification for Ethernet standards… having multiple solutions is a good thing.” IEEE could merge these two alliances and risk delaying the ratification process due to disagreements among different vendors, recognize one alliance, or, as John D’Ambrosia suggests, certify both standards and give customers two options that accomplish the same task.

The IEEE currently operates as the central source of authority that dictates which standards to pursue based on the votes of participating members. The non-profit organization promotes competition among different vendors and prevents proprietary technology that would inhibit interoperability and backwards compatibility from emerging. IEEE’s standardization process is a six step procedure that depends upon the cooperation of competing companies to set protocols in order to move the project forward.

Would you trust a non-certified 2.5G or 5G Ethernet solution that would allow you to support faster networking equipment over existing copper cabling infrastructures?

Update: IEEE’s 802.3BZ Task force overseeing the standardization of 2.5G and 5G Ethernet finally meet. Read what happened when the MGBASE-T and NBASE-T Alliances were finally forced to collaborate.

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Comments (4)

  • George Zimmerman Reply

    You really should substantially overhaul this blog. It is highly dated, but unfortunately doesn’t carry the dates to let the reader know. The standards war you mention was avoided back in June 2015, and the IEEE 802.3bz standard was published at the end of 2016 – almost a year ago. I was the chief editor for IEEE P802.3bz-2016, am a member of the NBASE-T alliance, and am the Technical Committee Chair for the Ethernet Alliance, but I speak for myself here, having found your article while searching for an NBASE-T PoE switch for home use…). The technology adopted for IEEE 802.3bz and NBASE-T are compatible and have now been tested for interoperability at two joint NBASE-T and Ethernet Alliance plugfests. I routinely speak to people who aren’t aware products are available in the market and often still have lingering confusion over a ‘potential standards war’ which never happened. Please update and help clear the confusion!

    December 29, 2017 at 9:25 am
    • Planetech USA Reply

      Thanks, George for contacting us! With your suggestion, we are in the works of clearing up the confusion on this blog. We do have a few other articles on our blog updating readers on this topic (check it out here). Can we contact you via email for future blogs on this topic? Thanks!

      January 4, 2018 at 3:31 pm
  • Phil Reply

    Why doesn’t this article have a date? It’s fine for an article to have outdated information, as long as it’s clear what year the article is from… I have no idea if this is from December 13th 2018, december 13th 2010, etc….

    June 4, 2019 at 7:47 am
    • Planet Technology USA Reply

      Our apologies, this post is from December 13th, 2014. We will work on adding the year published to the site. Thanks!

      June 4, 2019 at 9:39 am

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