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MEF certifies 20 vendors under CE 2.0 specification

The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) on Tuesday announced the first 20 vendors that now offer Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) certified compatible products during its Q1 2013 meeting in San Diego.

Bob Metcalfe, MEF

Metcalfe (Image source: MEF)

Following the success of CE 1.0, CE 2.0 incorporates a number of new features including multiple Classes of Service (CoS) and an easier interconnection process for eight standard service types, in addition to enabling efficiencies for mobile backhaul applications.

The first vendors certified under the CE 2.0 designation are: Accedian, Altera, BTI Systems, Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN), Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), Cyan, FibroLAN, Huawei, Infinera (Nasdaq: INFN), Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), MRV, Omnitron, Overture, PT Inovacao, Pulsecom, RAD Data Communications, Telco Systems, Tellabs (Nasdaq: TLAB), Transition Networks and Transmode.

"These 20 companies represent 25 percent of the MEF equipment vendors totaling about 80," said Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet and MEF advisory director. "By the end of the year, we expect there will be 88 companies certified as CE 2.0 with about half of them being service providers and half equipment providers."

According to the MEF, the current size of the Ethernet market is $70 billion, with about $30 billion for services and $40 billion for new vendor equipment. Recent research conducted by IDC, Frost & Sullivan, Vertical Systems Group and Infonetics Research forecast that Ethernet services alone will reach almost $48 billion by 2015.

Driving interconnectivity and quality

The CE 2.0 spec drives three new attributes: a standardized interconnection method for service providers; management; and multiple Classes of Services (Multi-CoS).

As service providers look to extend services to more locations for the clients that may be out of their own footprint, they have to establish External-Network to Network Interconnection (E-NNI) agreements.

Typically, these agreements have had to be done on an individual basis according to a service provider's particular needs to extend connectivity into other markets where they don't have a network presence. This has usually been a time consuming process because all of the agreements have had to be developed with existing and new partners by matching up a number of particular attributes including network latency, jitter, QoS and CoS elements.

Nan Chen, MEF

Chen (Image source: MEF)

"From the overall service provider perspective, the number one thing they are looking for is the ability to expand their footprint with interconnectivity to build a global network," said Nan Chen, co-founder and executive vice-chairman of CENX and president of the MEF. "That's obviously a benefit to their enterprise customers so they can have global reach."

But as service providers establish E-NNIs with other carriers, they will also need to be able to have classes of service to address specific service types.

Since every Ethernet provider will be supporting various services, the Multi-CoS element in the CE 2.0 test plan can support more than 20 application types. Each of these application types are then mapped into each of those Classes of Service.   

"We can make sure those performance objectives of those applications will be met," Chen said. "It is revolutionary in the sense that it will take the guesswork out of supporting the applications for enterprises."

Gaining CE 2.0 certification is no easy task, however.

Bob Mandeville, president and founder of Iometrix, an independent testing lab that oversees MEF's CE 2.0 certification process, said "each company must pass a suite that totals 634 stringent tests." 

Mandeville added that in the process of working through the CE 2.0 test plan, vendors have to "prepare about 120 individual configurations in their equipment to pass these 634 test cases."

The CE 2.0 specification test plan has driven vendors to develop equipment that can support two new services: E-Tree and E-Access, in addition to enhancing existing CE 1.0 E-Line and E-LAN services.

Having a standard for E-Access is important because up until now, interconnection agreements have been proprietary. A set of common specifications for E-Access will mean service providers have a common foundation to build these agreements.   

Taking a page from CE 1.0, the CE 2.0 test plan also takes into consideration network management, with 68 test cases dedicated to service Operation Administration and Maintenance (OAM) and the ability of Multi-CoS Ethernet to support "bursty" traffic.

"Now we not only have the service definition, but we have a rigorous set of tests to allow equipment vendors to demonstrate that they fully comply with the requirements for Ethernet access delivery by service providers," Mandeville said.

Although vendors can develop equipment that only supports a portion of the CE 2.0 services, most of them have built their equipment to support all eight of the services covered under the new specification.

"The reason for that is for a vendor that is a NID [network interface device], for example, may not necessarily require all of the services, but the majority of the products tested have passed all of the services," Chen said.

Surpassing legacy services

While CE 2.0 is still a nascent specification, the latest wave of carrier CE 2.0 certifications follows ongoing strong certification of CE 1.0. To date, over 155 companies--including service providers and vendors--are now CE 1.0 certified.

What the ongoing CE 1.0 and CE 2.0 certifications also reflect is the growing movement of enterprises to migrate away from legacy TDM services to Ethernet.

"The traffic being carried by CE 1.0 exceeds all the traffic being carried by Frame Relay, T1, and ATM combined," said Metcalfe.

Vertical Systems Group reported that the Ethernet legacy bandwidth crossover began in 2011.

Rosemary Cochran, principal and co-founder of Vertical Systems Group, said in a previous interview with FierceTelecom that "between the period from 2010 to 2015, the access connections have a compound growth rate of 1 percent, but the bandwidth is 22 percent."

During this transition period, the big three U.S. service providers--AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL)--will continue to see legacy services like Frame Relay, ATM and T1 circuits eroding while Ethernet and IP services continue to rise.

While CenturyLink won't release its earnings until Feb. 13, AT&T and Verizon both reported that Q4 2012 sales of strategic business services like Ethernet continue to offset declines in legacy business services.

AT&T reported that overall business revenues declined 2.1 percent to $9.1 billion year-over-year, but rose 0.6 percent sequentially from Q3 2012. During the fourth quarter, strategic IP-based business including Ethernet and cloud services grew 10.6 percent year-over-year and total business IP data revenues grew 2.4 percent year-over-year, illustrating the ongoing transition from legacy services to next-gen data services. 

Like AT&T, Verizon also saw a decline in business services in the United States and Europe due to economic issues, but sale of strategic services, including Terremark cloud and data center services, security and IT solutions and Ethernet, increased 5.3 percent compared with Q4 2011 and represented 54 percent of global enterprise revenues.

For more:
- see the release

Special report: Wireline telecom earnings in the fourth quarter of 2012

Industry Voices: How Ethernet enables cloud connectivity

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AT&T Q3: Consumer, business IP drive up wireline revenues 2%