The differentiated services challenge

Ilan Seidner, RAD Data Communications
10 Dec 2010

One of the characteristics of Carrier Ethernet that make it a truly carrier-class technology is its support for differentiated services. Service providers can take advantage of this to offer a wide range of Ethernet services that can be delivered end to end, whether they operate in the retail, wholesale or even mobile space.

Unsurprisingly, however, different operators in different sectors have different network requirements when it comes to deploying differentiated Ethernet services, which also means different solutions and best practices, to include areas of first-layer aggregation, demarcation and Ethernet access.

As such, there are several key differences operators should be aware of when it comes to running Ethernet services for wholesale, retail and mobile backhaul networks.

Key differences

Retail customers will typically be located both in-region and out-of-region. This means relying on wholesalers for out of region access and could conceivably require negotiating service contracts with a number of wholesalers in order to service a retail customer. This can be time consuming. Carrier Ethernet exchanges, which could ameliorate some of the inter-connect difficulties and speed the process, are beginning to gain traction but are not universally available. The last mile in any event is probably over different physical infrastructures, but the end user quality of experience must remain the same.

The retail operator must also ensure SLAs to the end user and verify it vis a vis its customers. There are a couple of scenarios for this. The Carrier Ethernet (CE) demarcation device or NID could be deployed back-to-back by both the wholesaler and retail operator, or the wholesale operator would manage the service end-to-end in its own region but allow the retail operator access to the PM KPIs or the wholesale operator would offer a service VPN to the retail operator from the single CE demarcation device.

Retail customers also require multiple services ?four to five, on average ?with a mixture of CIR and EIR bandwidth. If some of the retail branches have high capacity needs but can only be reached over bonded copper or DSL bonding then sophisticated traffic management schemes are required in the CE demark device to avoid congestion and service impairment.

Also network requirements vary according to retail customers?applications. Are they connecting data centers, departmental LANs? How much bandwidth is required per site? How scalable is the network? Perhaps the retail operator will provide a mix of Layer 2 and Layer 3 services. Is the traffic bursty? Symmetric or asymmetric? Financial service customers require ultra low latency, for example. All of these will determine the retail operators?service offering to their customer.

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