|Issue:||North America I 2014|
|Topic:||Captains of disruption in the telecom world: Carrier Ethernet|
Paul Pierron became FiberLight’s Chief Executive Officer in 2014. As CEO, Mr. Pierron oversees the day-to-day activities of FiberLight’s Sales, Marketing, Operations and Finance departments and is responsible for the company’s overall growth strategy and corporate culture. Under his direction, FiberLight has secured a number of major sales wins, enhanced internal systems and procedures and implemented aggressive growth plans for each of their markets.
Mr. Pierron brings 39 years of telecommunications and business experience to his position with FiberLight. He previously served in leadership roles with AT&T, SBC, Sprint, Nuvox, LightCore and Xspedius. Prior to becoming FiberLight’s CEO, he also served as Chief Operating Officer for the company. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Pierron witnessed firsthand the growth and evolution of Carrier Ethernet across the globe. He maintains in-depth expertise, skills and knowledge of Carrier Ethernet technologies, services, applications and standards. Mr. Pierron plays an instrumental role in driving the growth of FiberLight’s Ethernet portfolio, which offers best-in-breed Carrier Ethernet technology delivered over a US$1 billion diversely constructed optical ring topology network.
Carrier Ethernet is gaining a much broader market foothold, thanks to its versatility, flexibility and cost-efficiency. While originally conceived for connecting LANs, it is now used by mobile carriers to carry mobile internet, therefore recent demand for it is driven by the roll out of 4G/LTE in the US. Ethernet standards have evolved and can now run over copper and fiber, legacy and advanced networks. It allows paying for immediate capacity as and when needed, and introducing services promptly, when they are required. Corporate demand is also pushed up by the new WLAN standards that allow higher multi-user throughput, and the uptake of cloud services. The scalability of connecting to the cloud is now addressed by the CloudEthernet Forum as well as the MEF.
Carrier Ethernet continues is evolving into the network platform of choice for organizations requiring high-capacity bandwidth to respond to exploding rates of data consumption. Carrier Ethernet solution is better at delivering streaming voice-data-video without delays than legacy platforms such as SONET-based T1s with its 1.54Mbps maximum transmission capacity. Ethernet offers scalable circuits, beginning with 10Mbps to 100Mbps, for faster access. As more businesses clamor for bandwidth for streaming content and access to the cloud, Carrier Ethernet is positioned to meet demand in the zettabyte era.
The rise of Carrier Ethernet
Originally, Carrier Ethernet was designed to connect Local Area Networks (LANs) and was deployed over Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) or Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) – neither of which offered much flexibility. Now, Carrier Ethernet service is growing to support 4G/LTE deployment and faster content delivery. While capital expenditures for overall network expansion have remained somewhat flat, investment in U.S. carrier networks for backhaul support of 4G/LTE technology (such as fiber-to-the-tower, or FTTT) has been on the upswing, resulting in US$30 billion in new expenditures.
The U.S. leads the world with 1.38 Gigabytes of mobile data consumption per month, representing 5% of the world’s wireless connections and 50% of all LTE deployments. This trend is likely to continue due to the rise in cellular device sales – expecting ten billion new devices by 2018, well beyond the seven billion devices sold last year. Individuals and businesses alike are ditching telephone landlines in favor of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and wireless communications, creating a greater need for a Carrier Ethernet solution.
Carrier Ethernet for the zettabyte era
All factors point to the need for a better solution to meet heavier IP demand. It is estimated that global IP will reach 1.4 zettabytes per year by 2017, based on two wireless devices per user. It is expected that IP networks will carry 11.2 exabytes of mobile traffic per month by 2017. To prepare for this growing demand, telecom carriers have spent US$70 billion on Carrier Ethernet equipment and services in 2013 and expect to spend US$100 billion by 2017. The ongoing effort is paying dividends. Today, Carrier Ethernet is being delivered to business premises more often than all other legacy technologies combined.
Carrier Ethernet may be best positioned to become the new standard for several reasons. It offers a simplified design. It scales as an organization grows, enabling bandwidth-on-demand for peak periods. Operational expenses are lower because organizations only use bandwidth as and when it is required, therefore Carrier Ethernet has better gross margins and ROI. The network infrastructure is flexible enough to perform on multiple platforms, including Ethernet over Copper (EoC), DSL, fiber, SONET, DWDM or SDH. Carrier Ethernet is granular, which makes it easier to manage and control, and new applications can be added as needed.
Carrier Ethernet architecture is more reliable because of redundant equipment, reducing the risk of network failure. It is more secure than the public Internet, since it is delivered over a private, non-shared network. Unlike other network solutions, Carrier Ethernet delivers information at the speed of the wire, which is the fastest bandwidth speed available today, and there is less risk of jitter and delay due to propagation, data protocols, or problems due to routing and switching, where data can become congested and information can get lost.
Network design considerations
Carrier Ethernet network design is flexible and can be customized, selecting between point-to-point (building-to-building or building-to-data center); multi-point to multi-point bridge (a multi-point service connecting a group of customer endpoints known as an E-LAN); or multi-point service connecting one or more businesses, but preventing one group from communicating directly with another (called an E-Tree). It can be a virtual network, providing multiple connections to subscribers called the Ethernet Virtual Private Line (E-VPL); Dedicated Internet Access (DIA); Ethernet Access to the Internet over a privately connected network (IP/MPLS VPN); and Wide Area Network (WAN) VPLS.
Connections can extend to LAN, WAN, Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), data center, or the cloud. Bandwidth can be dedicated and provisioned to serve single or multiple locations and subscribers, at native LAN speeds. While Carrier Ethernet users have access to circuit speeds of 10Mbps, 100Mbps and 1000Mbps (GbE), transport capacities of 10G, 40G and 100G Ethernet are becoming increasingly common.
About 50% of all companies using Ethernet customer ports today are riding on fiber. More buildings are coming on-net and greater demand for 10G Ethernet has brought in more competitive pricing. Although pricing may vary from location to location, all prices are based on the type of service, Ethernet ports required, port speed, contract terms, and the facility’s location. U.S. customers pay around US$1.47 per megabit of broadband service compared to customers in Western Europe, who spend about US$49 cents per megabit.
Some sectors would like to see bandwidth sold as a commodity. Recently, the U.S. Patent Office approved an application for a Colorado-based telecom company to patent a bandwidth trading tool. The service platform will permit the company to sell unused blocks of bandwidth in real-time at a decreased rate.
Carrier Ethernet standards
Carrier Ethernet’s surge in popularity is driven by greater cellular demand for 4G/LTE transport infrastructure; greater capacity requirements of data-centric, cloud-based applications; and ongoing demand for greater flexibility and speed when accessing the cloud. However, it must also be attributed to the new standards, set by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum). The MEF, a consortium formed to promote the adoption of Metro Ethernet, has recently created a committee to look at operations management for multi-carrier networks. The goal is to create more service diversity, interoperability, standardized contractual arrangements and further clarity regarding national regulatory standards. In September 2012, the IEEE released an updated Ethernet Standard (IEEE 802.3), which enables higher multi-user throughput in wireless LANs at a data rate of up to 7 Gbps. The new standard is 10 times faster than the previous standard and allows differing Ethernet speeds to be adjusted before transmitting information. The end result is a better multi-user experience.
In 2013, the CloudEthernet Forum was established to address scaling and to define the most appropriate ways to meet cloud service demands. In collaboration with MEF, the CloudEthernet Forum addresses performance and technical challenges associated with VLAN (Virtual LAN) scaling, deliverability, regulatory requirements and cost efficiency across complex virtual networks, data centers, large domains, and consolidated storage networks.
While all of these factors have made a positive impact on Carrier Ethernet’s establishment as the industry standard, growth may be an inevitable part of the Internet evolution, based on a theory set forth by Moore’s Law. Created by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore and highlighted in a 1965 paper, Moore’s Law makes the observation that every two years, the number of transistors on integrated circuits increases exponentially. Other factors such as processing speed and memory capacity also double. Today, it is not uncommon to see demand triple on a daily basis, requiring a technology capable of dynamically multiplying to provide necessary capacity as well as cost-efficiencies.
Carrier Ethernet is gaining broader acceptance across market sectors. Education, manufacturing, the arts, travel, finance, healthcare, agriculture and government are all seeking the reliability and cost efficiency Carrier Ethernet delivers. For example, major strides are being taken in the education sector to provide rural schools and universities with high-speed Web access. Ethernet offers solutions for Education’s growing demand for data and technology, delivering robust, school and campus-wide connectivity to support initiatives such as virtual classrooms for distance learning, campus security systems, SMART Board technology, videos streaming, and more. Ethernet is also enabling the delivery of high-speed data transport services, as well as high-bandwidth applications to carrier, enterprise and government customers in underserved areas. Traditionally supported by local cable and telephone companies, these critical connections to data centers and major touch points across the globe will now be facilitated via Ethernet.
Other factors such as availability and low latency for streaming audio and video, secure access to off-site data storage and retrieval, disaster recovery, business continuity, VoIP, and flexible access to virtualized service offerings such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) applications also position Carrier Ethernet in the forefront as the best delivery choice.
What sets Carrier Ethernet apart from other platforms, however, is its fiber core. Multiple services can be delivered simultaneously with 99.999% reliability and improved uptime due to its redundant architecture, which can reroute traffic in the event of a network failure.
As Carrier Ethernet continues to improve, it is further differentiated from legacy solutions. Offering seamless, integrated Ethernet WAN connectivity between LANs, fast throughput and multi-user access to public, private and hybrid cloud solutions, Carrier Ethernet continues to set the stage for greater adoption. In the meantime, the medium is well positioned as the best Layer 2 transport mechanism for 4G/LTE Ethernet Backhaul moving forward. Its cost efficiency and scalability makes it the number one choice for cellular providers who are seeking the best solution for 4G/LTE deployment.