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Metro Ethernet Market Set To Skyrocket

Ethernet is poised to jump from the local area network (LAN) to the wide area network (WAN), according to a recent report from International Data Corporation, and network equipment vendors had better be ready for the change.

The metro Ethernet equipment market, which IDC describes as "potentially disruptive," is taking off, driven by next-generation network applications like triple-play services and Internet television (IPTV). According to IDC, metro Ethernet equipment sales reached $1.7 billion last year, and will continue to rise at a 26% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2009.

"The migration from a legacy network infrastructure - Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) or Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) - to metro Ethernet is well under way," IDC Optical Networks research manager Sterling Perrin said in a statement. "Growth over the next five years will be substantial, and metro Ethernet represents one of the most significant opportunities in wireline telecom infrastructure."

Whether vendors are ready to take advantage of that opportunity is another thing, however. IDC notes that. over the next four years, sales of metro Ethernet equipment will overtake sales of the SONET/SDH equipment that make up the backbone of the public telecommunications market today. While vendors can leverage the existing infrastructure and promote Ethernet over multiservice provisioning platforms (MSPPs) in the short term, IDC expects this to be a short term solution as carriers transition to switched Ethernet networks.