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Editorial (April 01, 2002)

It often feels as though you blink and the "greatest-hottest-much ballyhooed-ber-technology" you just heard about is gone.Perhaps it's a case of well-intentioned -- but inaccurately early -- predicti...

April 1, 2002  

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It often feels as though you blink and the “greatest-hottest-much ballyhooed-ber-technology” you just heard about is gone.

Perhaps it’s a case of well-intentioned — but inaccurately early — predictions. Maybe the technology itself is flawed, inaccessible or just not “ready for prime time”. Or it could be that the world just isn’t ready for the greatest thing since sliced bread, part two.

Staying abreast of the tech trends is a full-time job — and many people make a living (and a good one) doing just that. So, in this issue of Cabling Systems, we thought we would do a little market assessment of our own. We polled our Editorial Advisory Board and picked the brains of some cabling industry insiders to get their take on which technology developments in the network cabling field are worth following this year.

As we imagined, there are quite a few — and many that certainly warrant the time we couldn’t give them here. But with the help of the experts, writer Grant Buckler narrowed the list down to five hot trends to watch. These five (featured in our cover story, “Hot Technologies”, on page 8) are: wireless networking, Voice over Internet Protocol (IP), Ethernet Industrial Protocol, metropolitan dark fiber, and 10-Gigabit Ethernet.

We chose wireless for some fairly obvious reasons — the freedom it allows professionals and the way it connects mobile workers. But we also chose it because of the new wireless standards that are emerging, which will bring the speed of wireless connections into direct competition with those of hard-wired links.

Additionally, we opted to include Voice over IP. While this is a technology that is slow to emerge, it seems to have a lot of promise within the enterprise. In fact a recent study (see page 9) found that moving from a PBX or Centrex service to VoIP can save 18 to 30 per cent of an organization’s annual telephony costs.

Another area we pegged is the Ethernet Industrial Protocol. While it has traditionally been limited to the office, Ethernet is making strides — and even gaining ground in industrial automation. And although it is still early on in the adoption game, the Ethernet Industrial Protocol, which was designed for factory-floor automation, is something to keep an eye on.

Next we looked at metropolitan dark fiber. As our writer found, while network builders initially thought they could profit by leasing dark fiber to competitors in the local and long-distance telephone markets, “a glut of long-haul bandwidth and the collapse of many local competitors sent demand plunging.” So those with bandwidth to sell have turned to enterprise customers, who can save a lot of money by leasing this technology.

Last, but of course not least, we looked at 10-Gigabit Ethernet. When Ethernet started in the 1980s, it had a capacity of 10 Mbps. Now 100 Mbps to the desktop is common, and many backbones run the newest standard, Gigabit Ethernet. And work is nearly complete on a 10-Gigabit Ethernet standard, which will mean big changes ahead.

While there are many other technologies to watch in the months to come, we thought these five were a good representation of what is hot in the network cabling field this year. I guess we will have to look back at this list next year to see how accurate we were. Perhaps we will even have to create a brand new list for 2003.

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