Ethernet services

MEF Peers Consider Ethernet Exchange

NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo -- The MEF is talking to service providers about putting money into a third-party Ethernet exchange, Light Reading has learned.

Similar to a VOIP peering point or an IP exchange, this would be a place where carrier networks intersect, and where Ethernet services could be handed off from one operator to another.

This would extend the services' reach. Carriers could use each others' networks to expand services into new regions, for instance.

Even though the MEF has published some definitions for Ethernet services, carrier offereings don't necessarily match up.

"When people talk about Ethernet services today, they can mean a dozen different things," says a representative of one company that the MEF has queried on the project. "An exchange is a good idea, providing better scalability to an NNI [network-to-network interface] model and to be able to do it without 1,000 connections within every provider."

Reportedly, the exchange would be a neutral entity funded by the carriers involved. Other sources pinged at Ethernet Expo weren't aware of this effort, so it's possible that it's still in an early, exploratory stage.

It might even face some competition. A couple of Ethernet vendors at the Expo noted that the idea of an Ethernet peering point, mentioned at an earlier conference, seemed to catch the attention of carriers in attendance.

Nan Chen, president of the MEF, wouldn't confirm, or comment on, any of this. He is nothing if not a man of secrets.

Equipment vendors, meanwhile, are already bringing out demarcation gear with Ethernet NNI (E-NNI) requirements in mind. (See ADVA Tackles Ethernet Pain Point and Sweet Music for Overture.)

In his morning keynote at Ethernet Expo today, Chen talked up the "third phase" of carrier Ethernet, which focuses not on equipment vendors but on service providers and how they interconnect. (See MEF Touts Phase 3.)

The MEF's specification for an E-NNI should be ready next year, Chen told the audience. The MEF's E-NNI work started in 2007, and the organization originally hoped to complete a spec by this year. (See MEF Tackles Ethernet Interconnect.)

He also mentioned a wholesale access interconnect initiative that the MEF has started up. This would work like an Ethernet services menu, giving service providers a standardized template of Ethernet services and capabilities. The idea here would be to give service providers a simpler way to request wholesale Ethernet connections and services from each other.

"Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) are all heavily lobbying the drive to get this particular thing done," Chen said.

Separately, Chen said an MEF specification for mobile backhaul should be ready in January.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet Expo 2008, a conference and exposition examining the latest trends in the carrier Ethernet market. To be staged in New York, October 20-22, the conference will also host Light Reading's third annual Ethernet Service Provider of the Year Awards for North America. Admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:29:06 PM
re: MEF Peers Consider Ethernet Exchange It's been interesting talking to people at the Ethernet Expo about this, especially since the idea of an Ethernet exchange is in such early stages.

One quote that might come up in our coverage later on: "An independent third party would probably have an easier time gaining traction" than a carrier trying to serve as this exchange point.
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