The MEF Speaks - Carrier Ethernet - The New Ethernet for All
By Nan Chen
From its humble 2.94Mbit/sec beginnings, Ethernet has grown to become a 10+Gbit/sec technology that spans not just the enterprise and home but the globe.
The new Ethernet is known as Carrier Ethernet, and is predicted to be part of a $20 billion business by 2007. According to IDC, it is the technology of choice for delivering new and exciting services to business, residential, and mobile customers.
The industry body responsible for the development of Carrier Ethernet, the Metro Ethernet Forum, is developing standards and certification programs that will allow seamless inter-mixing of vendors' equipment, lowering costs, and making product selection easier
WHAT IS CARRIER ETHERNET?
Carrier Ethernet is IEEE802.3 Ethernet plus five carrier-class attributes. These five attributes or aspects of Carrier Ethernet have been standardized by many standards bodies, led by the Metro Ethernet Forum, which has driven standards development. Ever since its inception four years ago, the MEF has ratified 11 standards, or technical specifications, that define Carrier Ethernet itself. The five carrier-class attributes are:
• Scalability: Both in the number of services supported (such as E-LAN and E-Line) and of bandwidth. The key to Carrier Ethernet's attractiveness to the enterprise is its ability to vary bandwidth on demand as business needs change.
• Protection: Carrier Ethernet now offers end-to-end, 50ms network-wide restoration capability in the event of link or node failure, allowing service providers to support traditional TDM traffic, data flows tailored to suit the characteristics of a switched circuit network.
• Hard QoS: This fundamentally changes how Ethernet is delivered. Service providers can deliver CIR and EIR, so allowing Carrier Ethernet to underwrite their SLAs. It means the SP can guarantee services with greater confidence.
• TDM support: Accomplished through emulation of E1, T1 and OC3 circuit services. This allows interoperability with legacy infrastructure plus the delivery of additional services, such as voice, to customer premises. Traffic can flow just as if it were on a traditional wide area network.
• Services management: Carrier-grade service provision and OAM.
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