Carrier Ethernet

Carrier Ethernet Definition

Carrier Ethernet (CE) is a standard for network service providers to deliver high speed, carrier class, Ethernet in Metro Area Networks. It defines native Ethernet packet access to the Internet as well as increasing penetration of wireless networks, which present a direct challenge to the traditional SONET telephony infrastructure, and promises Wide Area networking scalable beyond 10Gbps using ubiquitous Ethernet technology. The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), a standards organization, has made a commitment to the new standard with their simultaneous launch of a Carrier Ethernet Certification Program to accelerate the delivery of industry standard products and services to the end user, with SONET-like determinism and resiliency.

Carrier Ethernet (CE) is carrier grade Ethernet.

It provides the determinism of a circuit based network, like TDM, while retaining the flexibility and low cost of Ethernet. CE enables service providers to construct a single, general-purpose Ethernet infrastructure that delivers the full range of access and aggregation applications, with a high quality of service.

Deterministic CE connections deliver guaranteed bandwidth, in addition to the tightest possible latency and jitter performance, 50ms automatic protection switching, and precision fault management. This type of connection also allows for statistical multiplexing and oversubscription. CE does for Ethernet, what SONET did for DS1 and DS3 networking.

Ethernet started out as a best effort protocol for the LAN. It has since evolved to become the dominant connection protocol for carriers in the WAN, too. The Metro Ethernet Forum standards have been evolving since at least 2006, with the last major evolution in Metro Ethernet now finding its way into the marketplace under the Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) certification.

Carrier Ethernet Networks, now supported by all the top vendors, utilize equipment that leverages the heritage of Ethernet in the LAN, while extending it with features that make Ethernet useful in mission-critical transport networks. These extensions, predominantly covered in the IEEE 802.1a and 802.3 sets of standards, include enhanced scalability and OAM capabilities. Carrier Ethernet supports features needed in a transport network such as connectivity verification, rapid recovery and performance measurement. Carrier Ethernet can be transported by variety of means – SONET, IP/MPLS and OTN.

Using traditional TDM and SONET backbones, service providers have taken days and weeks to establish wide area networks for new customers and make subsequent changes. Since Carrier Ethernet connects using Ethernet plugs and sockets, new customers can be hooked up to Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and other Ethernet interfaces in a much shorter time.

Why Carrier Ethernet?

  • Well-Known Technology – Standards based Carrier Ethernet leverages and extends all the features, including low cost, of traditional Ethernet
  • Box consolidation – multiple functions in one chassis reduces operational, port, power and space expenses, reducing points-of-failure such as jumpers, simplifying protection
  • LAN Services in the WAN – emulates popular LAN and point-to-point Ethernet services
  • Scalability – scales to thousands of endpoints for cost and efficiency
  • Convergence – a common platform for IP-based voice, data and video services
  • Speed of Service Delivery
  • Connection Oriented predictability

With CE, service providers can now construct a single, general-purpose Ethernet infrastructure that delivers the full range of access and aggregation applications.

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