|The only publication dedicated to OSS Volume 2, Issue 4 - September 2005|
Serving Up Ethernet
By Dan Blacharski
Ethernet has long been the foundation of the LAN. Gigabit Ethernet made quite a splash with its extreme speeds, and has since formed the backbone of many enterprise networks. But the Ethernet gods weren't satisfied with that, and made it even faster, releasing 10-Gigabit Ethernet, a telecommunications technology that provides an extremely efficient and comparatively inexpensive solution to moving data over backbone connections. Running over optical fiber, 10-Gigabit Ethernet, also known as Carrier Ethernet, can become an effective replacement, or complement to, ATM or SONET technology.
As a WAN/MAN technology, Carrier Ethernet can support up to 300 meters on multimode fiber, or 40 kilometers on single-mode fiber. Its development is overseen by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), and it is rapidly gaining carriers' attention as a way of delivering new, high-bandwidth services to both business and residential customers. An increasing number of carriers have already started phasing out Sonet/SDH in favor of Carrier Ethernet.
Carrier Ethernet is now rapidly moving into the space that was previously the exclusive domain of SONET technology, including high bandwidth, Quality of Service, and self-restoration. There are five defining factors that bring Carrier Ethernet into the realm of telco providers: Scalability, protection, hard QoS, TDM support and services management. The protection attribute makes Carrier Ethernet competitive with SONET's self-healing functionality; Carrier Ethernet offers an end-to-end restoration capability in the event of failure.
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