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E-NNI Enables International Ethernet
E-NNI is the telecom standard that has been needed to enable Ethernet exchanges to peer Ethernet traffic worldwide.

By: John Shepler

Metro Ethernet service has been growing by leaps and bounds. That’s not surprising, considering that Metro Ethernet services generally offer higher bandwidths at lower prices than traditional telecom services. They also offer features such as virtual private line and LAN service that weren’t previously available. As business appetite for Ethernet in the WAN grows, it’s only natural that businesses look to connect everywhere through their Metro Ethernet connections.

Moving Beyond The Metro Area
Metro Ethernet was intended to be just that. The "metro" in Metro Ethernet means metropolitan. It’s a service that is perfect for connecting two or more business locations within the same city or greater metropolitan area. The geographical range of coverage is set by the service footprint of the carrier providing the service.

Rise of the IP Core Network
Many competitive carriers now base their core networks on IP packet switching technology, not the traditional circuit switching architecture. They’ve embraced Carrier Ethernet to offer Ethernet services that span metropolitan areas so that companies can interconnect branches in cities across the country.

The Need For An Exchange Standard
What’s been more difficult is getting the same type of universal access that companies have enjoyed with the Public Switched Telephone Network. After all, the days of monopoly in telecommunications are long gone. What’s needed is a standardized way for all those competing carriers to exchange traffic so that their customers can have a much wider geographical presence. Thats what E-NNI is all about.

What is E-NNI?
The Ethernet External Network-to-Network Interface (E-NNI) is an industry standard ratified this year by the Metro Ethernet Forum. It provides a way for carriers to exchange traffic without having to worry about losing service features or having to create ad-hoc interfaces carrier by carrier. A separate UNI or User Network Interface connects each customer to its respective carrier.

Peering Through E-NNI
The E-NNI specification makes it easy for carriers to exchange voice, data and video traffic at Ethernet layer-2. This make switched networks that span multiple carriers possible. To the user, the Ethernet WAN may look like one large cloud. To the service providers, it is a collection of clouds interconnected by peering through E-NNI connections.

Emergence of the Ethernet Exchange
The ratification of the E-NNI standard is giving rise to Ethernet Exchanges, such as Telx, that provide worldwide interconnection services for service providers at a carrier-neutral facility. Rather than having to build-out their service footprints to everywhere customers want connections or going through the laborious process of negotiating Private Ethernet NNI agreements, carriers can simply connect with each other through an Ethernet Exchange so that each participant has access to a much larger geographical footprint.

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