3Com Corp is looking increasingly likely to have its PACE Priority Access Control-Enabled technology for prioritising time-sensitive Ethernet and Fast Ethernet data adopted by the IEEE as a standard. Bill Lidinsky, chairman of the IEEE’s 802.1 committee, says the body recognises that a standard for prioritisation is needed and at this point in time there is no alternative technology on the floor. However, Lidinsky warns that a finalised standard is still some way off: the first draft of the spec is likely to go out for ballot within the 802.1 committee by March, but I can say with some reasonable confidence that the first draft is not going to pass: this, says Lidinsky, is not because of any inherent technological problems, but because it will require fine-tuning. The final standard is unlikely to emerge before 1997. 3Com is not planning to wait for the standard before launching products, and will announce new switches incorporating the Priority Access Control-Enabled capability this month, according to manager of business development Bob Roman. Roman is also confident that if the IEEE does alter the spec before approving it, 3Com will be able to modify its own implementation to fall in line. As yet, however, 3Com has not managed to get rival manufacturers to adopt it: when Priority Access Control-Enabled was announced, some heavyweight software companies – Apple Computer Inc, Novell Inc, Oracle Corp, and Starlight Networks Inc – endorsed it, but no switch manufacturers. Roman says 3Com has been in discussions with switch chip vendors, but as yet no additional names have signed up and even if we do reach agreement, it will be some time. One issue that has yet to be resolved at the IEEE is how many classes of service should be implemented, although Lidinsky says that at present, the discussion seems to be centred around two.