Expect Gigabit Ethernet to get far more affordable next year, when the copper version of Gigabit Ethernet is standardised by the IEEE.
Industry watchers predict prices of copper-based Gigabit Ethernet cards will sink as low as $US250, much less than the fibre-optic versions, which start at around $US750. Copper-based switch ports are expected to cost at least 25 per cent less than their fibre counterparts.
Vendors expect to have copper prototypes by year-end, with products shipping as early as the first quarter of next year.
At the same time, users can expect to see 100/1000Mbps cards, adjustable in the same way 10/100Mbps cards are today, says Stephen Haddock, chief technical officer at Gigabit Ethernet switch maker Extreme Networks.
The standard will become final by March "with a good tailwind", says Colin Mick, editor of the IEEE copper Gigabit Ethernet document.
Copper-based Gigabit Ethernet is likely to be confined to server connections. In network backbones, price is less of an issue than other factors, such as reliability. Plus, fibre doesn't have the copper standard's distance limitation of 100 metres.