The newest type of metropolitan network is called Metropolitan Ethernet, Metro Ethernet or Metro E. What’s exciting about Metro Ethernet is the wide range of bandwidth levels available, the ease and speed of increasing bandwidth as needed, the availability of new standardized services, easy LAN interfacing and the cost advantage of Ethernet compared to traditional telecom services.
A metro area network is exactly what it sounds like. It is a network that covers a particular city or metropolitan area consisting of the city, suburbs and any important industrial or office parks. Metro networks are careful to be accessible by businesses that are likely users of their services. This is strictly a commercial service, not for residential or home office users.
Unlike the Internet, there is no public access to Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN). They are privately operated by a network service provider who grants access only to paying customers. Even those customers can only access their own data. The network operator provides enough resources so that customers are unaware there is anyone else using the network.
What type of services can you get? Two of the most popular are E-Line and E-LAN. Both are standards established by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), an industry trade group. An big advantage of standardization is that you know what you are ordering regardless of service provider or hardware implementation.
E-Line or Ethernet Line service is the familiar point to point dedicated line connection. A EVC or Ethernet Virtual Connection is established between the UNIs (User Network Interfaces) at two locations. Your Ethernet packets travel back and forth on this EVC. It’s virtual because you don’t have a dedicated set of wires between the locations for your use only. Instead, your EVC shares the Metro Ethernet Network with other user’s EVCs.
The other popular service is E-LAN or Ethernet LAN service. This is a multi-point networking service that connects 3 or more business locations in a meshed network. This replaces propriety corporate networks created using multiple T1 lines or other dedicated bandwidth connections in a star network arrangement.
What makes E-Line and E-LAN so popular? First, you can get the connectivity you want at a lower cost than using older telecom technologies. Second, it’s Ethernet just like the Ethernet you run on your company LAN. For MAN applications, this is called Carrier Ethernet. Because it’s Ethernet, your connection to the MAN is via a standard copper or fiber Ethernet connector. There are no special interface cards needed. By tying your locations together via Carrier Ethernet, you can choose to use layer 2 switching to create a bridged LAN that includes all of the networks at your various locations around town.
Carrier Ethernet is designed to be easily scalable. You can get connections using copper technology called EoC for Ethernet over Copper in the range of 2 Mbps on up to about 45 Mbps. Fiber technology called EoF for Ethernet over Fiber covers you from 10 Mbps up to 10 Gbps. This includes the popular range of 20 to 100 Mbps that many companies desire. Note that if you have a 100 Mbps Ethernet Port installed, you can start off with 20 Mbps service and scale up to 100 Mbps with only a phone call to your service provider. If you have a Gigabit Ethernet Port installed, you can get any bandwidth up to 1,000 Mbps.
Could your company benefit from 20 to 100 Mbps Metro Ethernet? If so check prices and services for Metro Ethernet Networks available for your business locations.
Note: Photo of city lights courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.