Ethernet plain sailing

Ethernet plain sailing

The market for services based on carrier Ethernet has sailed through the global economic downturn largely unscathed.

The market for services based on carrier Ethernet has sailed through the global economic downturn largely unscathed. It is set, believes analyst firm Infonetics Research, to be worth in the region of $40 billion annually by 2013, representing a growth rate of 20% to 30% per year.

But there’s a lot more going on than just steady growth, or it would not prove such an enduringly interesting market to watch. It looks like 2010 in particular will go down as a milestone year for market developments. It will come to be seen as the year when Ethernet went truly global. It will certainly be the year when different Ethernet networks started to talk to each other in a free and easy fashion, without the need for complex negotiation and technical wizardry, thanks to the ratification of the eNNI interconnect standard and to the rapid expansion of exchanges for the swapping of Ethernet traffic around the globe.

Long-haul Ethernet services are becoming a serious choice for wide area communications. Carriers everywhere are adding new Ethernet offerings to their WAN armouries, including point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and multipoint-to-multipoint service offerings. Ethernet continues to present an attractive alternative to ATM, Frame Relay, SDH/Sonet and Layer 3 IP VPN products. Ethernet over MPLS in particular is proving a hit where the cost of wide area networking needs to be minimised.

Phil Tilley, VP of marketing for the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), believes that Ethernet as a wholesale service is the most exciting sub-sector of the market, and its biggest growth area. This is being driven in part, he believes, by the anxious future currently being faced by the world’s mobile operators. “We’re talking to a lot of fixed-line operators about how they can support mobile operator customers on things like backhaul,” he says. “Ethernet services are being sold a lot more now to mobile operators, both fibre and microwave.” Tilley is also heartened to see interest in carrier Ethernet growing outside the US and Europe, and spreading to places like the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

In this briefing Capacity provides a comprehensive look at the carrier Ethernet market, examining drivers for growth, pricing issues, potential solutions offered by vendors, as well as reports on some of the companies leading the way in developing this essential technology.