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MEF Extols Carrier Ethernet Benefits

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IRVINE, Calif., April 19 -- Business connectivity at tens of Gb/s and broadcast-quality video on demand are just two benefits we can expect from 'carrier Ethernet' -- the next major step in global communications, according to the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF).

The MEF said carrier Ethernet, defining native Ethernet packet access to the Internet and the penetration of wireless networks are a direct challenge to the traditional SONET telephony infrastructure and promise wide area networking (WAN) scalable beyond 10Gb/s using ubiquitous Ethernet technology.

"When the MEF began, our challenge was to release Ethernet from the confines of the local area network," said Nan Chen, MEF president. "Our focus on the metropolitan network has been so successful that people no longer think in terms of Ethernet's limitations; instead, they ask us 'What will it do next?' Now carrier Ethernet is our answer, in response to overwhelming demand for the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of Ethernet services across the WAN."

Ethernet was conceived by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center as a simple way to network computers via a standard interface. President George Bush awarded him a National Medal of Technology in a ceremony at the White House last month. According to Metcalfe, now advisory director of the MEF, "I see Ethernet developing in four directions: UP, DOWN, OVER and ACROSS. UP in speed -- whether we jump to 40Gb/s or 100Gb/s is more to do with the decision balance between telephone and computer companies than any limit to the technology. Telephone generations are traditionally four times faster while computer generations go up in tens. DOWN to the 8 billion processors shipped each year that are not yet networked, and increasingly moving OVER wireless links -- WiFi, WiMax, ZigBee and others. Which is ironic, as it was derived from the 1970 Alohanet packet radio network. And now it's moving even further ACROSS the chasm between LANs and WANs with the development of carrier Ethernet."

Ethernet marks the end of outmoded SONET and T-1 technologies, Metcalfe said, because businesses will be able to buy cheaper bandwidth at higher speeds, with the advantage of a "granular" pricing structure that allows selection of and payment for only the bandwidth needed.

Chen said Ethernet benefits will include a next-generation Internet capable of delivering TV-on-demand to the home or to a wireless handheld, and the sort of "telepresence" business conferencing envisioned in the mid-90s that never really emerged to challenge face-to-face meetings.

"They say we are moving toward a common world language, and I'm inclined to agree," Chen added. "But it won't be English, Spanish or even Chinese -- it will be Ethernet."

The MEF develops technical specifications and implementation agreements to promote darrier Ethernet worldwide. It recently launched a carrier Ethernet certification program to accelerate delivery of industry standard products and services to the end user.

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Apr 2005
carrier EthernetCommunicationsEthernetMEFMetro Ethernet ForumNews & Featurespacket accessSONETwireless networks

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