Sales of Gigabit Ethernet LAN switches have exceeded Fast Ethernet sales in EMEA for the first time, according to analyst firm IDC.
The overall market for LAN switching in the region grew by 14 per cent to 17.3 million ports during the first quarter of the year, IDC claimed. Total revenue for Q1 was $1.2bn.
IDC reported that Gigabit Ethernet port shipments made up 52.3 per cent of total turnover in Q1, compared with 46.2 per cent of overall turnover in Q4 2003.
In terms of turnover, the top five vendors in the sector during Q1 were Cisco, Hewlett-Packard ProCurve, 3Com, Nortel and D-Link, according to IDC.
"Gigabit is something we are priming heavily at the moment," said Paul Ballinger, UK and Eire sales director at Alcatel.
"The main things are cost saving and density. The cost reduction is not necessarily in the hardware but in things such as management. The savings are demonstrable to the end-user."
Ballinger said most Gigabit kit is going into the edge of the network, acting as a "Trojan Horse" for core upgrades.
"The top five will change, but it's impossible to predict how," he said. "Factors include the impact of IP telephony, video and possibly wireless."
D-Link recently announced its assault on the enterprise Gigabit Ethernet market with two managed Layer 3 Gigabit switches.
The increasing popularity of Gigabit switching in the UK market has been partly due to the cost of Gigabit kit declining to very close to Fast Ethernet levels, according to EuroLAN Research.
Andy Zollo, UK channel manager at Extreme Networks, said: "We're certainly seeing a lot of interest in Gigabit at the high end. We launched the Black Diamond 10,000 in the UK in March, and our biggest problem has been keeping up with the demand.
"We've sold 25 so far, and we're expecting the same number on back order shortly."
3Com also saw significant growth. "We were growing in the UK in Q2, and this was not just organic growth," said Darragh Richardson, head of marketing at 3Com UK. "We have seen six months of double-digit growth in our market share in the UK."
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