Carrier Ethernet is an extension to the switched circuit Ethernet protocol that is nearly the universal for Local Area Networks (LANs). You know that there is a distance limitation to LAN Ethernet networks, especially for those running on Cat 5e/6 twisted pair copper wiring. How is it that Ethernet can now reach across town, to the other side of the country and around the world?
You can thank the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) for setting the standards that make long distance Ethernet possible. The MEF is an industry alliance of over 175 organizations who have a vested interest in Carrier Ethernet. Because carriers and manufacturers have agreed to work within these standards, it is possible to have interoperability among Carrier Ethernet systems worldwide.
What’s different about the MAN and WAN versions of Ethernet is that they are transported rather than running natively on the copper or fiber cabling. Technologies that enable this are Provider Backbone Bridges (PBB), Provider Backbone Bridge Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE), Provider Backbone Transport (PBT) and Carrier-Ethernet Transport (CET). Connectivity-Fault Management (CFM-OAM) technology adds operations, administration and management features needed to operate metro and long haul communications networks.
Note that the term Carrier Ethernet applies to Metropolitan Ethernet, also called Metro Ethernet, as well as longer haul networks that go beyond the immediate metropolitan area that is the domain of Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN). That’s because metro and wide area networks are more alike than different. They all involve use of a common carrier to transport the signal rather than private ownership of an in-house local area network.
The MEF has standardized Carrier Ethernet services regardless of the transport mechanism. E-Line is the familiar private point to point line service that is popular with T1, DS3 and SONET telecom services. E-Line gives you a direct ethernet connection between two Ethernet ports located across town or at any distance. E-LAN, or Ethernet LAN Service, is a multipoint to multipoint mesh network that covers multiple locations. These could be branch offices or franchise locations. E-LAN can bridge your multiple site LANs so that they act like one larger network.
Another service is E-Tree which is a point to multi-point service, not meshed. The center or root locations can communicate with any of the remote or leaf locations, but those leaf locations cannot directly communicate. They have to route all traffic through the roots that may or may not pass it on. This is similar to the proprietary star networks that companies have deployed to create their own private wide area networks.
Ethernet can be carried over twisted pair copper as EoC or Ethernet over Copper. It can also be transported over T1 (EoDS1) or DS3 (EoDS3) to take advantage of existing infrastructure. Ethernet can also be provided over fiber optic networks including legacy SONET/SDH and the newer Ethernet over Fiber (EoF) running on native IP networks. MPLS networks can easily transport Ethernet services as pseudowires using MPLS label switched paths. This expands the offerings to include Virtual Private Wire Service (VPWS) and Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS).
In addition to the availability of standardized Ethernet services over MAN and WAN distances, Carrier Ethernet also offers the advantages of easy interfacing, granular scalability with nearly any bandwidth level available, and considerably lower cost than traditional telecom services. It is not unusual to get twice the bandwidth for the same price or cut your bandwidth costs in half by switching to Carrier Ethernet services.
Is your company looking for a bandwidth upgrade or to expand connectivity beyond your current network? Perhaps you’re curious to see if you could realize a considerable cost savings? If so, get pricing and options for Carrier Ethernet solutions now.