As a primarily live audio engineer I can tell you that this is called a digital snake and they rock! As you know playing with old heavy analog snakes esp. with high channel counts is LAME! Digital snakes can carry hundreds of channels of sound over one ethernet cable using several different protocols and are of such good quality now, that even the seasoned pros can't tell the difference between them and their analog counterparts.
EVERY show you see on tv and EVERY big name artist save a very small handful, use digital snakes anymore. Heck even analog sound boards have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. Digital has taken over and is industry standard for almost everything from small churches to sold out Metallica concerts.
Quality digital snakes and mixers can be found for very reasonable prices. For a digital board on a budget look into boards by brands like Behringer's x32, Presonus's Studio live boards, and Allen & Heath's QU-32. Currently these boards run under $3,000 new (not including the snake). These boards produce solid reliable results on a budget. (P.S. Several of the largest Country groups in the US have used the x32 live on tour).