Leveraging wholesale Ethernet and E-Access services

30 September 2014 | Brian Van Voorhis

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Brian Van Voorhis

Blog Author | Overture; Senior product manager


Wholesale Ethernet, also referred to as E-Access, is an integral part of the MEF’s CE 2.0 initiative. An E-Access service is one offered by a wholesale operator as a virtual connection between one or more end user locations and the retail service provider.

Wholesale Ethernet, also referred to as E-Access, is an integral part of the MEF’s CE 2.0 initiative. An E-Access service is one offered by a wholesale operator as a virtual connec¬tion between one or more end user locations and the retail service provider.

This is becoming an increasingly important component of retail service providers’ strategy for providing service to end customer locations that are not directly on their network (on-net). Increasingly, service providers gauge off-net success by their ability to leverage wholesale Ethernet and CE 2.0 E-Access.

The hand-off between the operator (who has last-mile access in this case) and the end customer is an Ethernet port called the user network interface (UNI). The hand-off between the operator and the service provider (who sells the service to the customer) is also an Ethernet port and is called the external network-to-network interface (ENNI). The “service edge” refers to equipment owned by the service provider that is terminating the ENNI.



E-Access allows service providers to grow their footprint, shorten turn-up time and expand service offerings. But what are the issues that the early adopters of wholesale Ethernet have had to address?

As service providers look to expand their premium Ethernet services using E-Access wholesale services, they have found it difficult to maintain a consistent user experience in this multi-operator environment, and have learned important lessons about wholesale Ethernet’s interaction with class of service (CoS), local switching, quality of service (QoS), and the existing TDM off-net access.

Real-world scenarios have highlighted a number of issues that need to be addressed in order to meet the challenges of interconnecting at the ENNI to integrate E-Access into a service toolkit, while also assuring uniform QoS across the network connection.

A viable solution set needs to be capable of handling multiple QoS profiles, should incorporate virtual interface queuing, loop detection, local hair-pin switching of E-Line and E-LAN traffic, and allow classification visibility into 3 levels of VLAN tag stacking, as well as supporting hundreds of Y.1731 performance monitoring flows.

For service providers selecting a solutions partner that understands and has met the challenges of getting the best performance assurance using wholesale E-Access services, there are many benefits, including:

•     The ability to maintain full control of QoS across a multi-operator network, thereby ensuring a consistent customer experience regardless of access type
•     Reduced backhaul recurring expenses with locally switched E-LANs and E-Line services across wholesale
•     Support for standard and non-standard class of service (CoS) marking through VLAN and service class mapping up to three stacked tags deep
•     Real-time performance monitoring and assurance across a multi-operator network
•     Integration into a suite of virtual and software-defined services that lower cost pre-aggregation/switching compared to traditional “big iron” Carrier Ethernet switch/routers.

In an ideal world, a service provider would deliver Ethernet business services using their own optical network. However, the reality is that no single service provider or network op¬erator has a fibre network that reaches all business locations.

Today’s business-savvy service providers are working with partners who know how to leverage E-Access services and help them extend their Ethernet footprint, while delivering an offering that is consistent with their on-net services.