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Metcalfe: Carrier Ethernet 3.0 will include more applications, capabilities

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As Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) starts to gain momentum--with 20 vendors gaining certification for their respective network platforms--Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, is already plotting what CE 3.0 will look like.

Robert Metcalfe

Metcalfe (Image source: MEF)

Metcalfe, who invented the technology in 1973 at Xerox's PARC research center, said during the keynote speech at the Metro Ethernet Forum quarterly summit on Wednesday in San Diego that the next generation, or what may eventually be CE 3.0, will be driven by two factors: greater speeds and more software capabilities.

When Metcalfe in partnership with David Boggs developed Ethernet in the 1970s, he freely admits it was never seen as a technology that would never be used outside of the corporate LAN. At that time, the standard speed for Ethernet was 2.94 Mbps.

His vision of the future of Ethernet is inherent in his role as one of the board of directors at US Ignite, a think tank group tasked with advancing new technology innovations.

If the telecom and application community build larger pipes and new applications, Metcalfe thinks that users will come.

"When I say build it and they will come, and what I mean that users will come and applications will come," he said. "Well, it turns out that they need a little help, so US Ignite is looking at the next killer apps for the Internet."  

US Ignite's charter is based on two main assumptions.

The first is that the Internet will run at 1 Gbps. Evidence of this trend is taking place in Chattanooga, Tenn., where the local utility EPB Fiber is offering 1 Gbps services for businesses and residential customers.

"Chattanooga is now the first Gig city and every home and business has 1 Gig service in preparation of looking for the next killer Internet app," said Metcalfe. "

Second on the list of requirements is that the new networks will be software defined, where concepts like SDN (software defined networking) will have relevance to a host of new end-user and service provider applications, including on-demand service delivery and greater network automation.

While there have been a number of old traffic sources, including voice and file transfer, the new network traffic drivers will come from video, mobile networks and embedded M2M (machine to machine) applications like smart thermostats.

Three segments will benefit from these new ways of thinking about higher bandwidth speeds and software capabilities.

"Education, energy and health care are all crying out for disruption," Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe, who also serves as an MEF advisory director, said that as the forum looks at developing CE 3.0, it should start collaborating with the Open Network Forum (ONF), a consortium looking at how to develop SDN standards.

"Wouldn't it make sense for the MEF to be talking to the ONF about how 3.0 can anticipate the requirements of the new Gigabit Software Defined Networks?"

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