Metro Ethernet Forum touts backhaul initiative

FEBRUARY 20, 2008 -- The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) introduced its Mobile Backhaul Initiative last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The MEF believes its new strategy will deliver the foundational specifications and the operational validation required for cellular operators to benefit the economics and scalability enjoyed by other users of Carrier Ethernet.

FEBRUARY 20, 2008 -- The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF; search for MEF) introduced its Mobile Backhaul Initiative last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The MEF believes its new strategy will deliver the foundational specifications and the operational validation required for cellular operators to benefit the economics and scalability enjoyed by other users of Carrier Ethernet. The initiative includes a series of multi-vendor interoperability events being staged during 2008, in collaboration with the European Advanced Networking Test Centre (EANTC) and the IP/MPLS Forum.

Independent research within the mobile community paved the way for the Mobile Working Group's approved draft "Service Implementation Agreement (IA) for Carrier Ethernet services in mobile operators' backhaul networks," the MEF says. The final document will aim to provide a simple standard specification for the purchase and sale of backhaul services over Ethernet, encompassing a wide range of access technologies. The IA will complement the MEF 8 specification defining Circuit Emulation Services (CES), the technology that allows TDM services to be offered over Ethernet. It also leverages the newly announced MEF certification program, based on MEF 18 which ensures tests proper integration and implementation to the standards.

"Since 2002 the MEF has directed its influence towards a whole range of communications challenges, and each time it has had a major impact on the telecoms industry segment in question" stated Nan Chen, MEF President. "This time the challenge is to meet the pressure from increasing mobile usage by offering a cost-effective migration path from legacy backhaul networks to an all-IP Carrier Ethernet solution. It's the natural choice, because its scalability allows decoupling of traffic volume from capital and operating expenses, so operators can handle massive growth in video and data traffic at less cost."

According to Mike Howard, senior analyst at Infonetics Research, this is a significant opportunity. "Ethernet made up just 1% of total mobile backhaul equipment revenue in 2006, but is forecast to soar to 41% by 2010 � a potential $2.5 billion worth," he said. "The cost per leased line PDH and ATM over PDH is about two and a half times that of new wireline backhaul (Ethernet, DSL, cable, PON), and mobile operators shelled out more than $19 billion in mobile backhaul service charges last year."

As well as offering lower capital and operating expense, Carrier Ethernet's scalability allows flexible response to changing traffic demands at mobile sites, as well as architectural scalability to meet future network needs, the MEF asserts. The organization hopes to prove this point via the 2008 Mobile Backhaul Interoperability Test Event program. The program began with a guided tour for invited service providers, press, and analysts on January 17, 2008 at EANTC's Berlin laboratory. The complete test network will be showcased at the February "MPLS and Ethernet World Congress" earlier this month in Paris, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and finally the Las Vegas "CTIA Wireless" in April 2008.

The events showcase a range of Carrier Ethernet-supported mobile applications designed to demonstrate how well Carrier Ethernet meets the delay and delay-variation requirements of cellular networks. The demonstrations model a representative next-generation backhaul network including customer access, heterogeneous aggregation and edge networks, plus a core network using such technologies as MPLS, T-MPLS, and PBB-TE. The diverse technology clouds are interconnected via standard interfaces enabling interoperable end-to-end communication spanning multiple network architectures. Demonstrations will cover phone calls over multiple technologies, mobile TV and video on demand, high-speed data services and voice prioritizing using MEF bandwidth profiles, and uninterrupted voice calls demonstrating MEF service resiliency in both core and aggregation networks.

"We are inviting vendors to participate in this the first public interoperability test showing applications from multiple vendors "according to Carsten Rossenhöevel from EANTC. "And all service providers and large enterprise network operators, systems integrators, journalists, and analysts interested in the latest Carrier Ethernet and MPLS solutions are welcome to attend. "At CTIA Wireless the showcase will be completed with CDMA2000 applications and will be hosted on the MEF booth."

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