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Wide-Area Ethernet Services Advancing with Reliability Guarantees



The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) recently announced the first round of network gear certified to comply with its Ethernet services requirements. Certifications showing carrier compliance with MEF Ethernet services requirements demonstrate service providers' commitment and adherence to Carrier Ethernet. This development should help drive down provisioning costs.

Conformance with MEF requirements benefits enterprises in two ways: It lowers the cost of Ethernet services by commoditizing hardware used by carriers, and it assures customers that carriers can deliver reliable Ethernet services that meet SLAs.

Carrier Ethernet describes wide-area Ethernet services used for LAN extension and high-speed connections within a metropolitan area, nationwide and internationally. Early Ethernet services provided only best-effort service; Carrier Ethernet offers SLA reliability in a low-cost, high-speed WAN that joins LANs transparently.

Carrier Ethernet promises low-cost, high-speed services that can transparently extend your LAN across a WAN. Carrier Ethernet standardizes service-quality measures for packet delivery, latency, jitter and availability. Byte for byte, the costs for Carrier Ethernet can be substantially less than for WAN technologies such as frame relay, ATM, Sonet or leased lines.

The Metro Ethernet Forum is the industry body driving the standardization of Ethernet services and testing. It coordinates standards with other bodies such as the IEEE and IETF and, where needed, develops standards on its own. National carriers AT&T, Level 3, Sprint, Verizon and Yipes offer metro, national and international Carrier Ethernet services; regional providers Bell South, Optimum Lightpath and Qwest partner with other carriers to interconnect locations outside their service areas.

Carrier Ethernet is a win-win for service providers and customers because both benefit from lower costs and flexibility improvements. However, like most WAN technologies, its availability may be limited to midsize or large metro areas, and your provider may have to rely on partners for coverage. The MEF is working on defining network interconnects among service providers, but whether that will in turn spur widespread partnering remains to be seen.

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