In today’s Ethernet network, datacenters have moved to extremely fast speeds to support the world’s growing data consumption needs. However, little has happened to increase the speeds of the existing infrastructure or address the bottleneck that the next generation of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11ac) products are creating. The next generation of Wi-Fi is moving to speeds of up to 6.8 Gbps, far exceeding the 1G speeds supported by today’s BASE-T Ethernet infrastructure. Clearly, there is a need to move BASE-T infrastructures to faster speeds to remove bottlenecks and the new 2.5G/5G Ethernet protocols are ready to support these higher data rates.
There is overwhelming demand for BASE-T Ethernet due to its ease of use and IT support, use of common cables that are similar to previous standards, and the ability to support incremental Ethernet speed updates. According to an Ethernet Alliance presentation, "Ethernet 104: Introduction to 2.5G/5G BASE-T Ethernet," over 4 billion 100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T (also known as IEEE 802.3ab) Ethernet switch ports have shipped in the last 20 years along with a similar number of BASE-T end points (such as desktop computers and servers, IP phones, wireless access points and consumer electronics). The presentation indicates that the total shipment of BASE-T port is approaching one billion a year.
Figure 1 shows the significant growth expected from 2.5G/5G BASE-T Ethernet, per the "Ethernet 104: Introduction to 2.5G/5G BASE-T Ethernet" presentation. In addition, the report shows that more Enterprise users are expected to connect to Wi-Fi than directly to Ethernet.