While Wi-Fi slowly creeps towards the 1Gbps mark, researchers at standards body IEEE are planning to boost wired connections to 1000 times the speed of their wireless counterparts. According to its research, core networking usage is doubling every 18 months on average, and so IEEE expects the amount of bandwidth required to raise 100-fold every 10 years. The Higher-Speed Ethernet Consensus group, the team responsible for defining to the standard, has yet to decide on the target speed for the new connection. There are two competing camps at present, one which wants the next-generation standard to max out at 400Gbps, and another that is aiming for an impossibly-fast 1Tbps connection.
Although it's in everyone's interest to have the fastest speeds possible, there's a big question mark over the technical and economic practicalities of the 1Tbps proposal. The new fast-speed connections, much like the 100Gbps copper connections found in data centers and enterprise today, will likely involve grouping a number of slower cables together to great one high-speed connection. There are a number of issues with this method, such as physical size: grouping the 80 cables required for a dual-channel 1Tbps connection won't be pretty; and cost: each cable requires its own components, and fiber will likely be used rather than copper to improve speeds, cut down on the weight, and reduce the diameter of the final cable.
There's no definitive date for for the new ethernet standard, but a John D'Ambrosia, the chair of the Higher-Speed Ethernet Consensus Group, told CNET that he suspects "this is going to be a very fast-moving project."