As the world becomes increasingly connected with an ever growing number of devices, the need for innovation in networking has continued to grow.
Some of the biggest innovations that will impact both consumer and enterprise networking in 2019 were on display and announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 from Jan. 8 - 11 in Las Vegas. Vendors announced new efforts that impact wired networking efforts as well as wireless.
Among the announcements is a numerical progression of wired and wireless standards including 2.5G, 5G and 10G that each fulfill different connectivity requirements of the modern digital age. In this EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet guide, we round up the biggest networking news from the world's largest consumer electronics showcase.
One of the top trends identified by EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet for 2019 is the growth of 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet (2.5/5 GbE). With the IEEE 802.3bz standard, which defines 2.5/5 GbE, organizations can use the same Cat5e cabling that is already present in businesses and homes to transmit data at faster rates.
Currently, 1 GbE is typically the rate for data transfer inside of offices and homes, but 2.5/5GbE brings the promise of up to five times the bandwidth. The challenge, however, is that organizations need new hardware, including Network Interface Cards (NICs), to take advantage of the speed boost. At CES, Aquantia announced its AQtion Multi-Gig Ethernet controllers. Among the first hardware vendors to support Aquantia's multi-gig technology is Asus, which announced at CES that it will support multi-gig on its Maximus XI Extreme and Maximus XI Formula motherboards.
"The PC motherboard is the center of the universe for a multitude of power users including gamers, workstation users, and creative professionals, to name just a few," LK Bhupathi, Vice President of Marketing, Aquantia, wrote in a media advisory. "Local network speeds are often a complaint for these power users and Aquantia’s new devices offer the solution."
2.5 and 5 GbE as defined by the IEEE 802.3bz standard is all about wired networking. In contrast, 5G is all about wireless. 5G is the next generation of wireless cellular communications and is a key theme at CES 2019.
Multiple vendors, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Ericsson and Intel, are announcing 5G innovations and milestones at CES. T-Mobile announced that it completed the world's first 5G call on the 600 MHz spectrum at the event.
"While the other guys focus on 5G millimeter wave on a handful of blocks in a handful of cities, we’re building 5G for everyone, everywhere!" John Legere, Chief Executive Officer of T-Mobile, said. "And together with Sprint, we’ll add much-needed spectrum depth, creating a truly transformative 5G network!"
In datacenters, 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking connectivity has been a common connection speed for a decade. Home networks, however, have not had the benefit of 10G and have typically been capped at around 1 Gbps -- but that could soon be changing.
At CES, NCTA, CableLabs and Cable Europe announced an effort to bring 10G networking to cable-based delivery systems for Internet connectivity. Multiple cable operators, including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Mediacom and Midco in the US, representing 85 percent of all American households, are part of the initiative.
Lab trials of the 10G for cable technology are currently underway, with field trials set for 2020.
"With groundbreaking, scalable capacity and speeds, the 10G platform is the wired network of the future that will power the digital experiences and imaginations of consumers for years to come," NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell, wrote in a media advisory. "As an industry, we are dedicated to delivering an exceptional national infrastructure that will power digital advancement and propel our innovation economy into the future."
The combination of wired ethernet and wireless 5G is also set to play a major role in the future of autonomous driving.
Modern vehicles are increasingly provisioning compute capabilities, and along with that has come the need for improved networking, enabled by Ethernet. Among the vendors making news in the automotive networking space are AllGo and Molex, which announced a collaboration to enable infotainment delivery for automotive ethernet networks.
"We are pleased to offer solutions that solve the media content access challenges arising out of distributed high speed in-vehicle connectivity," stated K. Srinivasan, CEO of AllGo. "Our work with Molex for the development of media access solutions over high speed Ethernet networks enables us to solve media connectivity challenges of connected and autonomous vehicles."
Inside both homes and business, Bluetooth is widely used to provide basic short range connectivity for devices.
At CES 2019, multiple vendors announced that they are coming together in support of the emerging Bluetooth Mesh technology. With Bluetooth Mesh, networking devices can be connected together for control, monitoring and automation.
"For the smart home market to grow, it needs true global wireless mesh networking standards that can meet the reliability, security, and performance needs of the market,” Dian Fan, General Manager of Xiaomi IoT Platform, wrote in a statement. "We’re confident that Bluetooth mesh is one of those standards and will enable tremendous growth and innovation in home automation for years to come."
Intel used CES 2019 to talk about its network silicon innovations that will help to enable 5G and edge computing use cases.
The Snow Ridge SOC (System On a Chip) is a new 10nm process silicon technology that will be positioned for vendor basestation implementations.
"This network SoC is intended to bring Intel architecture into wireless access base stations and allow more computing functions to be distributed out at the edge of the network," Intel stated. Snow Ridge is expected to be available in the second half of this year.
The next generation of Wi-Fi, officially identified by the IEEE 802.11ax designation and now branded as Wi-Fi 6, is another core theme that emerged at CES 2019.
Wi-Fi 6 offers the promise of increased speed, range and security over the currently deployed 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology. The Wi-Fi Alliance used CES as an opportunity to officially announce its Wi-Fi Certified 6 program which validates the interoperability and compliance of devices with the new wireless standard. Multiple vendors, including Aquantia and TP-Link among others, also announced new 802.11ax compliant hardware in support of the Wi-Fi 6 rollout.
"Wi-Fi 6 delivers features to satisfy users’ evolving connectivity needs and to enable more efficiency in the expanding places where users rely on Wi-Fi," stated Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance. "Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 continues a nearly 20-year history of providing standards-based, interoperability testing to ensure Wi-Fi devices meet expectations for quality and interoperability."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.