Could Gigabit Ethernet be the last generation where copper cabling will make any real sense? The news that 100Gig will come next was no surprise, but neither was the statement that it will be very hard to make it work over copper.

The latter is already true of 10Gig Ethernet, of course. Sure, it can run over twisted-pair copper - especially if you use decent STP (shielded twisted pair) rather than UTP (unshielded), but either way the range is going to be much higher over fibre.

At the same time, the price of copper metal has been going up and the cost of optical is falling. Clever technology should even make it possible to re-use today's Gigabit fibre for 10Gig.

Meanwhile in the consumer market, telcos and cable companies are recognising that the bandwidth needed for triple-play voice/data/video services cannot be economically met by copper, and they are pushing fibre ever closer to the home. In the US, over a million homes are already connected by fibre, providing broadband at up to 50Mbit/s.

So remind me again - why did we want 10Gig over copper?