Optimum Lightpath, the phone company owned by cable television operator Cablevision Systems, said last week that it's offering a voice over Ethernet managed service in the New York metropolitan area.
The Optimum move is the latest in what has been a good run for wide-area Ethernet. The key benefit of the approach is that it dips into the same family of protocols that drive virtually all local-area networks (LANs). This creates a far simpler end-to-end transmission path, and one that more easily combines voice and data. There are softer benefits, such as the potential to combine voice and data workforces -- reducing overall size -- and otherwise driving efficiency.
Of course, nothing is this simple in real life. Most stories are focusing on implementation -- not survival -- issues, so even the challenges can be called good news. For instance, this story focuses on efforts by the Metro Ethernet Forum to enable carriers to trade Ethernet traffic more efficiently. Today, the piece says, these tradeoffs are made on an ad hoc basis. The fact that streamlining the process is considered so important certainly signifies that the business is maturing.
In addition to streamlining traffic trade offs, the feeling of growth is evident as MEF approved specifications covering service operations, administration, maintenance and testing. The consortium also began initiatives to promote carrier Ethernet for wireless backhaul and to create best practices for provisioning, assurance and billing. The bottom line is that its proponents seem confident that the protocol is in the ascendancy. The MEF is reported to be gaining members quickly.
Another sign that Ethernet is enjoying its salad days is that designers are looking ahead to the next challenge, which features speeds of 100 gigabits per second. There is some controversy over whether this is necessary or not, but the fact that it is on the radar at all is a sign of good times for the protocol and its proponents.