HOUSTON – Bob Metcalfe, the originator of Ethernet, explained how it was that Ethernet took over the world. You take whatever works, he explained, and call it “Ethernet.”
“DOCSIS,” he said Wednesday, during his keynote of the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies, “is Ethernet.”
Metcalfe, in fine comedic fettle, outlined why Ethernet has succeeded where other network approaches such as token ring (“may it rot in hell”), FDDI and Sonet have failed.
The success of Ethernet, he said, is based on the Three Ss: speed, symmetry and switching.
The first S is speed. Ethernet began in 1973 at 2.94 Mbps. Today, there are commercial implementations at 10 Gbps, and people are working on 100 Gbps and 1 Tbps versions. A T-1 is 1.544 Mbps, Metcalfe observed. “Has anyone noticed that’s slower than 2.94 Mbps? T-1 has got to be removed.”
You give people speed, and they use it. “More speed,” he said, “is better.”
The next S is symmetry. Ethernet is symmetrical; HFC networks, he observed, are not. “I just came from CES (Consumer Electronics Show). The floor was littered with huge HD displays. As important were the cameras. User-generated video is important.”
The third S is switching. In cable, there may be some tension between switching versus sharing, but the issue, Metcalfe said, is how much sharing you want.
With more and more attention being given to switched digital video, cable’s answer might be: less and less.
Metcalfe knows that view is somewhat unpopular with the SCTE crowd. “In blog traffic that preceded today,” he said, “I received some nasty comments about me from some of your members…whose names I have.”