Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet, or “Gig-E” for short, is ultra-high capacity IP transit service offered to enterprises around the world by way of a fiber-optic cable that forms the backbone of the communication link between the carrier and the end-user. The word “Gigabit” refers to the capacity of the link, which is 1,000 Megabytes, or a Gigabyte, per second. The range of Gigabit Ethernet is typically between 1,000 Mb (1 Gb) and 40,000 Mb (40 Gb).

The term “Ethernet” simply refers to the type of IP handoff that takes place at each end of the connection. Gig-E, unlike copper-based services that are typically available just about everywhere, is limited solely to structures where fiber has been built-in/installed/connected by a Gig-e service provider.


The main difference between these two services is primarily the speeds involved. Both travel over fiber and utilize Ethernet hand-offs. The term ‘Metro Ethernet’ is usually reserved for lower speed connections from between 10 Mb and 1 Gb. Conversely, the term ‘Gigabit Ethernet’ is used for bandwidth north of 1 Gb.

There is also a great difference in the way the two services are used. Metro Ethernet is commonly used in WAN designs that connect many different physical offices of a particular company. The endpoints of this network are commonly located in the same metropolitan region, and hence the name, “metro” Ethernet.

Gigabit Ethernet, on the other hand, is the Rolls Royce of IP transit. Typical users of this kind of bandwidth are companies whose very job is to be in the communications business themselves, like stock exchanges, medical companies, and small communications providers who buy the service from the big boys. Gig-E lines are also very common in datacenter-to-datacenter links that companies use within their global WAN infrastructure. Think of it as the main interstate in the landscape of the internet. It doesn’t go everywhere, just from one major city to the next.

Gigabit is also very popular in international WAN deployments, and crossing the ocean doesn’t come cheap. Trans-continental Gig-E lines can run into the hundred of thousands of dollars, if you don’t know who will offer you the best deal. That’s where we come in!