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Ethernet Exchange Expands To Include Miami, Dallas and Los Angeles
How expansion of Ethernet Exchange facilities is leading to Carrier Ethernet dominance.

By: John Shepler

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the replacement for the Public Switched Telephone Network may well be Carrier Ethernet. More evidence for this is the expansion of Ethernet Exchanges that allow carriers to transport each other’s traffic. Telx, a major colocation and interconnection service company, has just added Miami, Dallas and Los Angeles to its suite of Ethernet Exchange facilities nationwide. Let’s take a look at why Ethernet Exchange matters and how it influences the direction of international wide area networking.

Why The Public Phone Network Works
The century long dominance of the PSTN or Public Switched Telephone Network can be attributed to its universal acceptance. Every phone can connect to every other phone in the world and work correctly. This network has been adapted for data and well as voice service for worldwide connectivity. It’s a circuit switched rather than packet switched network, but with proper interfacing and protocol conversion it gets the job done.

The Internet Design
Another model of universal connectivity is the Internet. The Internet is an IP network that is based on packet switching rather than circuit switching. Isn’t the Internet the model to emulate for the next generation in commercial connectivity?

Why Another Model Is Needed
Actually neither the PSTN nor the Internet are ideal for high performance network services. The PSTN has a telephone legacy and is organized around small independent channels bundled together to create larger amounts of bandwidth. It’s also a different set of protocols than are running on a majority of the world’s data networks. The Internet was designed by the government for survivability in the event of war or natural disaster. As such, it’s so autonomous that routes can change spontaneously and there is no such thing as class of service or guarantee of bandwidth, jitter, latency or packet loss.

Is Carrier Ethernet The Answer?
Carrier Ethernet seems like the ideal protocol for today’s metropolitan and long haul networking. After all, the network most likely to need transport is running Ethernet in the LAN. More and more, that’s converged voice, data and video over Ethernet. When you go to the trouble of carefully engineering your internal networks, it only makes sense to expect to link those networks transparently.

Footprints Too Small
The only fly in the ointment has been network reach. The companies most active in deploying Carrier Ethernet services have not had protected monopolies like the old telcos nor government R&D like the Internet. These are commercial companies, some with legacy telco assets and some with all-new IP core fiber optic networks. While each competitor may have thousands of buildings on-net, nobody blankets the Earth.

How Ethernet Exchanges Help
Here enters the Ethernet Exchange. The idea is a facility that enables Ethernet network operators to exchange traffic. By doing this, each carrier increases the reach of its network into the footprint of other carriers. Even Ethernet Exchanges can partner. Telx has a partnership with Neutral Tandem to provide access to each other’s exchange locations.

What Is Driving Ethernet Demand
With demand for Ethernet services growing rapidly each year, cooperation benefits all parties involved in transporting high bandwidth Metro and Carrier Ethernet services. Ethernet connections are now available in metropolitan areas throughout the US and in many countries around the world. The cost advantage, scalability and portfolio of services available with Ethernet is working to establish Ethernet as the new WAN networking standard at the expense of legacy telecom services.

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