The humble Ethernet protocol, developed to run enterprise LAN or WANs, has suddenly found itself in demand from the world's telecom operators.
The reason is simple: the soaring levels of data traffic across both fixed and mobile networks.
Wireline networks are feeling the strain of exponential increase in video data. Mobile network operators are for the first time coming to terms large volumes of data traffic.
Michael Howard, a principal analyst at Infonetics Research, predicts that by 2010 data traffic will almost certainly surpass voice traffic on mobile networks.
"Carriers everywhere are increasing the bandwidth on their backhaul networks to handle this exploding IP data traffic, and the most efficient, cost-effective way to do that is to transition from TDM to packet IP/Ethernet, which is driving the mobile backhaul equipment market," he said.
Infonetics predicts the carrier Ethernet gear market will top $32 billion in 2013, up from $17 billion last year.
Its advantage is its low-cost because of the huge economies of scale - much greater than those of SDH and other TDM gear, says Mike Adams, head of APAC sales for broadband connectivity at Nokia Siemens Networks. It also offers low operational costs and can plug-and-play with existing LAN and WAN ports.