1. What’s In Store for Carrier Ethernet in 2013

    CEN Feature (Jan 3 2013)

    1. What’s In Store for Carrier Ethernet in 2013

      Carrier Ethernet has been on a steep growth curve that shows no signs of stopping in 2013. As we look ahead to the new year, here are some of the developments we’re likely to see. 

      • E-LAN and E-access services make gains against E-Line. Carrier Ethernet News recently talked to IDC, which sees demand for E-LAN and E-Access services growing faster than demand for E-Line offerings, although E-Line services still represent the largest share of Carrier Ethernet service revenues, currently representing just under half (48.9%) of total revenues. It’s a trend that makes sense and will likely continue. As Nav Chander, research manager for enterprise communication services for IDS, explained, E-access services are gaining in popularity because of increased use of Carrier Ethernet to provide the access link to Layer 3 virtual private networks, dedicated Internet access and other Carrier Ethernet services.

      • Substantial progress made on the next Ethernet speed- 400 Gbps. When Carrier Ethernet News talked to John D’Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus Group toward the end of 2012, he told us that when the group did a straw poll of group members, there was near universal agreement that the next Ethernet speed should be 400 Gbps. The group wants to move the standard along quickly so the industry will be prepared for anticipated demand – and while terabit Ethernet would be nice, it’s not clear from a technology standpoint how it could be achieved. 

        The group seems to have learned a lot from its work in creating previous Ethernet standards and appears to be on track for a speedy standards process.

      • Network operators begin to deploy software defined networking for Carrier Ethernet. One of the things business customers like about Carrier Ethernet is the relative ease – in comparison with legacy services -- of bandwidth upgrades. But they would like that process to be even speedier and to be more flexible – and software defined networking could offer a way of meeting that demand. 

        The idea behind SDN is to centralize network control, thereby simplifying control and facilitating faster provisioning, as well as potentially supporting bandwidth on demand. And as ACG Research Principal Analyst Michael Kennedy told Carrier Ethernet News in mid-2012, SDN also has the potential to save money for network operators by enabling them to use switches in some places where they traditionally would have used routers. Several carriers, including heavy hitters such as NTT and Verizon, did SDN trials in 2012 – and some carriers are likely to deploy the service more broadly in 2013, Kennedy said.

      • Carriers get serious about Carrier Ethernet 2.0. It took some time after Carrier Ethernet 2.0 standards were finalized early last year before equipment supporting the standard, which aims to simplify service interconnection, became available. For a few months after the initial announcement, some stakeholders were a bit skeptical about how well Carrier Ethernet 2.0 would catch on. But interest in the technology seems to be growing. FairPoint, for example, has introduced a service specifically called “Carrier Ethernet 2.0” And several industry observers have told me they expect to see a few dominant network operators embrace the technology, spurring other network operators to get on board.

      • Ethernet over copper continues to see strong growth despite wider fiber availability. Strong growth in Carrier Ethernet over copper services drove several Carrier Ethernet service providers – including MegaPath, Integra Telecom and Spirit Communications – to expanded the availability of Ethernet over copper in 2012. And according to Infonetics, Ethernet access devices (EADs) that use Ethernet in the first mile were the fastest growing of three EAD categories, which also include fiber EADs and EADs based on T-1 links. Michael Howard, principal analyst for Infonetics, attributes EFM’s strong showing to enhancements to the technology that enable it to support higher bandwidth.

      • Compelling technology developments for 2012 gain further momentum. My last post was about the most compelling technology developments of the past year – such as Carrier Ethernet exchanges playing a new role in mobile backhaul and greater recognition of the importance of Carrier Ethernet to cloud services. The appeal of technologies such as these should be just as strong in 2013 as it was in 2012, if not more so.

      I took a look at the predictions I made a year ago and was pleased to see that they were largely accurate. For example, timing and synchronization capability is indeed available now on a wide range of Carrier Ethernet equipment and at least one network operator – Internet2 – has begun to support bandwidth on demand. Hopefully my predictions for 2013 will also be on track.

      I’m sure there also will be other important developments I haven’t thought of in 2013 – and I look forward to exploring them with you in the coming year.

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