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Swisscom Eats Up Ethernet

LONDON -- Ethernet Expo: Europe 2006 -- Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) was yet another one of several carriers piling on to the Ethernet bandwagon here today. (See Colt CTO: Let's Get Simple.)

In a keynote address here at Light Reading's Ethernet Expo conference, Urs Bratschi, head of network development at Swisscom's Fixnet division, said the service provider picked native Ethernet technology over a wide array of alternatives to build its metro network. The main reason? It's cheaper.

"Ethernet has some real significant advantages. One is the simplicity -- and also the costs, which are much lower than when we use other technology," said Bratschi. "Today we also think that Ethernet has reached the maturity to be used in the carrier environment."

When Swisscom studied the cost component, Bratschi said Ethernet technology was some 50 percent cheaper than alternatives such as Ethernet over SDH or VPLS technology. He also said that using the other technology results in too much complexity, and that it was important to move to a single Ethernet/IP infrastructure as quickly as possible.

Bratschi noted that Swisscom had decided to go with native Ethernet in its metro networks some time ago, and that he has been comforted to see more service providers use Ethernet in their metro networks: "I'm happy to see others choosing Ethernet."

That being said, straight Layer 2 Ethernet does not solve all the carrier's problems, noted Bratschi. For deploying IPTV services at the edge of the network, many Layer 3 routing technologies become important. The Swiss telecom provider found it must use Layer 3 multicasting technology to deliver high-quality IPTV, because "Layer 2 Ethernet does not scale in the metro."

The Swiss telco technology chief also said that IPTV plans are back on track after some struggles with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) technology. (See Swisscom Postpones IPTV and Swiss IPTV Trial Hits 'Glitches'.)

"Our partner Microsoft had some problems with stability," acknowledged Bratschi. "I have IPTV service at my home and the improvements are signifcant, and I'm sure we can come to market in the second half of this year."

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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