|The only publication dedicated to OSS Volume 2, Issue 4 - September 2005|
Ethernet's Keys to the Wide-area Highway
By Jim Tindall
Over the coming months, service provider competitiveness will depend increasingly upon the ability to offer Ethernet services. After all, virtually all enterprise local area networks employ Ethernet, making seamless extension across the wide area network (WAN) a compelling offer. Ethernet also has evolved to accommodate a wide range of data, voice, and video applications over a single networking protocol. Further, from both the service provider’s and enterprise’s point of view, Ethernet offers a new level of cost savings by delivering greater data capacity at lower cost than any WAN alternative.
However, a successful Ethernet WAN access revolution can not propose to overthrow established first-mile infrastructure or practices overnight. To the contrary, expanding Ethernet service opportunities will depend greatly on working with what is there. Service providers seeking to develop Ethernet services face two critical imperatives.
First, providers must employ Ethernet transport equipment designed to reach the broadest possible audience, rather than a small niche. Early high-capacity Ethernet equipment that has focused only on fiber-optic access limits the addressable market to little more than 10% of U.S. businesses currently fiber connected. Successful Ethernet service penetration needs also to accommodate a preponderance of enterprise locations that will remain connected to the WAN via the copper access plant for some time to come.
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