THE BLOG
05/29/2013 05:06 pm ET Updated Jul 29, 2013

The Ethernet Is 40, But the Uses of the Cable Are Still Infinite

This year represents the 40th anniversary of Ethernet. Forty years ago, Ethernet completely changed the way we communicate. And while Ethernet creator Robert Metcalf's sketch on a napkin 40 years ago doesn't receive the fanfare of a Benjamin Franklin kite, an Isaac Newton apple or Christopher Columbus' vessels, it has positively transformed our reality, our world and our global economy.

Initially, Ethernet was as simple as a cable connecting a group of computers to a printer. It slowly graduated to connecting a small network of computers before becoming what it is today -- supporting a global network of computers whose data is stored and easily accessible within the cloud. Today, Ethernet is connecting the far corners of the world, bringing us all closer than ever before.

Ethernet has been the backbone of the Internet and -- more importantly -- our global economy. Ethernet has accelerated us into the second industrial revolution: the digital age.

Take a moment to think about how you store and retrieve information. While 15 years ago it might have come from, or saved to your computer's hard drive, today it's from multiple repositories, devices, venues. Consumers and businesses alike all rely heavily on Ethernet to access their data reliably and securely.

Vast amounts of information are being transferred today and retrieved almost instantly. Computers have evolved into portable devices -- laptops, tablets and mobile phones. And we increasingly use mobile phones for video and not for making calls.

We connect to share videos, pictures, presentations. We watch live TV from our portable device and share pictures on social networks. We are able to achieve this because of Ethernet. It's a high-capacity traffic cop, ensuring data, video and information is routing to available lanes. It's a plumber opening up new pipes for water to move through.

Because of this plumbing, businesses have been built online. We're able to book airline tickets, buy holiday gifts, sell old items without the need of a yard sale and develop vast social media sites that have come to define our lifestyle. Through online financial trading, millionaires have been made. And, healthcare has become more accessible as doctors from around the world can come together to treat one patient in one location.

Ethernet is even offering an opportunity I believe will enable mobile carriers to take advantage of the next generation of communication services. With greater speed over mobile communications -- like 4G and LTE -- coming online, the use of Ethernet in the mobile backhaul (from the cell towers to the central network) is opening doors to more streaming video, video calling and next generation data and mobile applications. Ethernet is providing the ladder for these applications to improve, meaning speedier access to the pictures, videos and data we crave on our devices.

With Ethernet as the delivery enabler of data-intensive, high bandwidth applications to the mobile operators' core network, it opens up all sorts of possibilities to broadcast live events via mobile streaming video, such as next year's World Cup. The scalability and increased capacity it enables, means that you can watch live broadcasts from your mobile devices without having to wait for buffering. As a sports enthusiast, I think back to the World Cup soccer games in 1990. I remember vividly the emphasis on how television was going to transform where, who and how we saw the soccer matches. Countries with very little technology were going to be able to watch their team play. And we would be able to see games in color and on more channels.

Because of streaming video, I expect to see a hike in viewership numbers as more fans around the world tune into the 2014 games in Rio de Janeiro across multiple devices. This could make World Cup 2014 more pervasive globally than ever imagined.

Mobile streaming video also allows more video conferencing and certainly makes telework easier, even across the world.

Ethernet will be increasingly essential as emerging economies increase their demand for technology and the world continues to flatten.

Over the next 40 years, greater speeds will be developed and we'll be more connected than ever. We'll see new mobile applications, new technologies and new possibilities will emerge because of Ethernet.

I look back on how far we've come since 1973. But, I'm focused on the infinite possibilities of Ethernet that have not yet been realized. It's difficult to place a number on the value of Ethernet because it's far too vast to even think about. A world today without Ethernet would send our world and our economy into shock. So today we raise a glass to 40 years and ponder -- where will the next 40 take us?