The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) is largely credited with transforming Ethernet into a technology that is relevant and extremely compelling for carrier-grade metropolitan area network, long haul and local access services. Telecom Asia spoke to Mike Tighe, MEF chairman/director and director of strategy and market intelligence at Verizon Business, about the challenges ahead and what's next for Carrier Ethernet
Telecom Asia: What is the MEF's main objective‾
Mike Tighe: The MEF is about four years old. It started when roughly 35 companies came together to begin a market in Carrier Ethernet. Previously, Ethernet had been a LAN technology. The founding companies realized that Ethernet as a technology made sense but when deployed in LANs, it didn't have the attributes required to implement it from a carrier perspective. So these companies - mostly equipment providers at the time - went to work to augment Ethernet to enable it to be deployed from a carrier perspective.
One of the key things they did early on was to define types of Carrier Ethernet services. They defined two types of service - Eline, or point-to-point, and E-LAN, which is across multiple sites.
Has the nature of the MEF's membership changed‾
Originally it was very much an equipment vendor-led forum. That changed roughly 18 months ago when some of the major US service providers started getting more heavily involved. Now the membership is over 100, and we've had around 30% growth in members in the last 12 months. A large part of the growth has been service providers - the likes of Verizon, BT, COLT, Orange and AT&T. There's obviously Tier 1 providers but also an increasing number of Tier 2 providers.
Service providers are starting to get involved because they see a lot of success in selling Carrier Ethernet to large enterprises. To give you a Verizon perspective, Ethernet is our fasted-growing product portfolio - exceeding expectations and growing in high double digits and even low triple digits.
Why is Carrier Ethernet proving so popular‾
A couple of things. Depending on what analyst you listen to, some end-users' bandwidth requirements are growing at between 30% and 100% per year. Traditional networking technologies that they had relied upon - frame, ATM and private line - don't scale to meet their evolving bandwidth requirements. End-users see Ethernet as a way to continue to cost-effectively scale their networks and are asking service providers to implement Carrier Ethernet to support their growing bandwidth requirements.
That's one side of it. The other side, say for carriers such as Verizon that are offering entertainment services at a consumer level, is that there's a need internally for network architectures that are hugely scalable. Just as our enterprise customers have found some road blocks with traditional technology, we've found those same road blocks. So many service providers are implementing Carrier Ethernet for high bandwidth applications.
What's the size of the Carrier Ethernet market‾
Worldwide services revenues are estimated to jump 280% from $5.9 billion in 2005 to $22 billion in 2009, according to Infonetics.
Is Carrier Ethernet a global phenomenon‾
We see service providers joining the MEF from all over the world - China Telecom, Orange, BT, Telus, Bell Canada and VSNL.
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