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Carrier Ethernet Plays an Ever-Larger Networking Role

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2016 Business Communications: Changing the Way We Work

Carrier Ethernet (CE) offers big advantages: It enables carriers to use the same basic family of common local-area network (LAN) protocols that are used in homes and offices. It also allows bandwidth to be delegated in small increments, which enables a closer match between customer need and what is available to them. It is cheaper, less complicated, and carries a wide variety of traffic.

Vertical Systems Group today released its mid-year market snapshot. The firm named no new members of the highest rated Leaderboard for global providers of Ethernet, which are companies with “4 percent or higher share of billable retail ports at sites outside of their respective home countries.” The ranking, in size order (though no percentages were provided): Orange Business (from France), Colt (UK), BT Global Services (UK), AT&T (U.S.), Level 3 (U.S), Verizon (U.S.) and NTT (Japan).

Carriers with 2 percent to 4 percent of outside markets – the Challenger tier -- are Cogent (U.S.), Global Cloud Xchange (India), Sing Tel (Singapore), T-Systems (Germany), Tata Communications (India), Telfonica Worldwide (Spain) and Vodafone (UK). Those carriers, the release said, were listed in alphabetical order.

That wasn’t the only piece of CE news today. Ciena announced that Marcatel, a Mexican service provider, will use its CE technology to expand its offerings both north and south of the border. The technology, according to the vendor’s press release, will help Marcatel handle demand for cloud computing, video streaming and content distribution. Ciena says that the products will be comparatively inexpensive and feature low latency, “operational agility” and heighted security and control. Specifically, Marcatel is buying Ciena’s 8700 Packetwave platform, its 3930 Service Delivery Switch and its 5142 and 5160 Service Aggregation Switches.

The context of CE is that it is relatively recent technology that is aimed at business users. It therefore is apt to be used by cable operators trying to attract business customers traditionally served by telcos, many of which use older technology. Last month, for instance, Comcast Business said that it has expanded its fiber network in Tallahassee and is offering Ethernet-based services as fast as 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps). The company is offering private line, virtual private line, dedicated Internet and network services to the market.

One of the next steps in telecommunications networking is network functions virtualization (NFV). This enables carriers and service providers to create network functions and applications on the fly. The Metro Ethernet Forum, the consortium that oversees the evolution of Ethernet, suggests in a white paper that CE and NFV will complement each other:

CE provides the foundational connectivity providing performance and security assurances while NFV provides the agility to layer additional services onto the CE 2.0 network. This will help service providers offer, enhance, and expand their offerings with new and innovative services.

CE is a potent and increasingly important tool as overall bandwidth demand and the need for flexibility both increase.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 

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