Fast Ethernet is one of the standard Ethernet LAN speeds at 100 Mbps. But Ethernet LAN has now been extended to Ethernet WAN thanks to Carrier Ethernet technology. Carrier Ethernet, known at Metro Ethernet within metropolitan areas, takes your local network and transports it across town or across the country. This service can be configured for point to point data connections, multipoint networks to link multiple sites, or as a high speed connection to the Internet.
Carrier Ethernet comes in a variety of line speeds, but the one's usually mentioned are 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and 1000 Mbps to mirror standard LAN speeds. The 1000 Mbps level is also referred to as Gigabit Ethernet or GigE.
So, why trade in your DS3 connection for an Ethernet connection? Speed might be a consideration, since 100 Mbps FAST Ethernet is more than twice as fast as DS3. But once you have fiber optic service you can probably also upgrade to OC3 at 155 Mbps. Both SONET and Ethernet can also likely transport your traffic with the proper router interfaces. The real difference, and the reason you may be hearing a lot about Carrier Ethernet, is the cost of the service.
Let's take a look at the two competing technologies and their current market prices per the information provided by Shop For Ethernet, a service of Telarus, Inc. This major telecom broker sells both services and will gladly hook you up to whichever connection you prefer. But what they're saying is that, as of this writing, you'll generally enjoy a major cost savings if you choose Ethernet. A typical DS3 connection costs an average of $5,000 a month. A Fast Ethernet connection now runs $3,000 a month.
To make the comparison even more realistic, you need to factor in the bandwidth difference as well as the monthly lease price. Doing so results in a figure of $111.11 per Mbps for DS3 and $30 per Mbps for Fast Ethernet. That's over a 3x cost advantage, pushing 4x. If either service will meet your needs, which would you rather order?
Note that these numbers are representative averages taken at a snapshot in time. Your cost may be higher or lower for either service depending on how much infrastructure is built up where you are located. How can you get a current quote for your location? That's easy. Just use this handy GeoQuote (tm) Ethernet search tool. Go ahead, you may be astonished by how much your business could be saving.