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New specifications to ease delivery of carrier Ethernet services

The first products have been certified under the CE 2.0 standard

Service providers will be able to launch Ethernet services more quickly and make them work across other carriers more easily with a new set of standards for carrier Ethernet equipment, backers of the specifications say.

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) issued its first product certifications under the CE (Carrier Ethernet) 2.0 standard at a meeting late Tuesday. Products from 20 vendors were among the first batch approved. Major carrier infrastructure vendors including Tellabs, Ciena and Overture were among the companies that announced CE 2.0 certifications on Wednesday.

The MEF has been certifying carrier Ethernet gear for interoperability for several years, mostly to make it easier for enterprises to buy Ethernet services and be sure they're compatible with their own LANs, according to John Hawkins, a senior adviser at carrier equipment maker Ciena. CE 2.0 takes that interoperability further, making it easier for one service provider to extend its Ethernet service across another carrier's network, Hawkins said.

Carrier Ethernet is a form of the familiar LAN technology that's been set up for use on service-provider networks through the addition of features on top of the basic protocol. It can offer nearly any increment of speed up to 100-Gigabit Ethernet and can ride over fiber, copper wire, coaxial cable, and even Wi-Fi and other wireless systems.

MEF standards up to now have provided standard definitions of services that carriers can offer, such as an E-Line point-to-point connection or an E-LAN multipoint-to-multipoint network. CE 2.0 includes a variety of specifications designed to make it easier to extend those services to where the subscriber's own carrier can't reach, Hawkins said. To offer carrier Ethernet as a global service, a carrier needs to be able to ensure that foreign service providers can interpret the quality of service it sets.

CE 2.0 offers standard ways to define classes of service and to manage networks, as well as mechanisms for handing off carrier Ethernet traffic from one provider to another.

Some carriers have already made their services work across each other's networks, but that has required negotiations and work between those carriers, said Mark Durrett, director of marketing at Overture.

"The interconnection piece frees the universe to roll out ubiquitous Ethernet services," Durrett said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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More about: Carrier, Ciena, Hawkins, IDG, LAN, Lawson, Metro Ethernet Forum, Tellabs
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