Nan Chen is the Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Strix Systems, a provider of wireless Ethernet mesh equipment. Mr Chen is also the President of the Metro Ethernet Forum, a worldwide standards organization for carrier-class Ethernet networks and services. Before Strix, Mr Chen was the Vice President of Marketing at Atrica Inc. Prior to joining Atrica, Mr Chen was the Director of Product Management and Product Marketing at Force10 Networks. Mr Chen also worked at Nortel/Bay Networks/SynOptics and served as a Director of Technology at the Nortel Technology Centre. Mr Chen is a founding member of IEEE 802.3ae Task Force for development of 10 Gigabit Ethernet standards, and a founding Director of the Board of the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance (10 GEA). Mr Chen and his companies received over 20 significant industry accolades and awards, including multiple Best Marketing Awards. Mr Chen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics from Beijing University, and a Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems and a Master of Science degree in Biomechanics, both from the University of Arizona.
New telecommunications technologies bring many benefits, but nowhere more than in countries like India that have relatively little investment in existing - legacy - infrastructure. The new technologies often bring unbeatable cost and performance advantages that let new players compete against long-established players by offering advanced services at lower cost. Carrier Ethernet - a much improved version of the familiar Ethernet standard used in LANS throughout the world - brings the sort of technical and cost advantages needed to revolutionise the sector.
Among the emerging stars in the world economy, India enjoys particular strengths in information technology and IT-related services. India has one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing telecom networks, but the IT advantage will only be maintained by massive investment in high-quality telecommunication infrastructure. Across the globe, telecom services are widely recognised as an important tool for any nation’s socio-economic development and vital to rapid growth and modernisation of most sectors of the economy. Indian telecommunications policy has, to a great extent, been shaped by this perceived link between communications, information technology and growth. Access to information infrastructure is seen as a prerequisite not just to a robust IT industry, but also to broad-based growth and competitiveness in all other services and industries. For all this attention, India’s telecoms infrastructure still lags behind that of Europe, USA and other major economies, yet that in itself offers a major opportunity. With a market that is in effect a clean slate, India’s carriers are in some cases moving straight into next-generation services, and Carrier Ethernet is considered to be the simplest, quickest and most widely acceptable way to bypass old circuit-emulation technologies and migrate directly to next generation networks. The Metro Ethernet Forum, MEF The Metro Ethernet Forum, MEF, is a global industry alliance mission of which is to accelerate the worldwide adoption of Carrier-class Ethernet networks and services via simple, ubiquitous networks that allow rapid deployment of critical applications and increase the convergence of business, residential and wireless network services. The MEF’s worldwide membership comprises over 100 organisations, including telecommunications service providers, network equipment/software manufacturers, semiconductors vendors, testing organisations and, most recently, cable industry MSOs, multiple system operators. The membership embraces both market giants and technology start-ups from North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Its members play an active role in standardising wide-area Ethernet networking, as well as helping drive equipment and service certification programmes. Carrier Ethernet The Ethernet was developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre in 1973. Initially, it offered transmission at 2.94Mbit/sec and was widely used for local area networks, LANs. It is now used in diverse transmission media and has become a 10+Gbit/sec. technology linking not just the enterprise and home, but the entire globe. The new Ethernet, known as Carrier Ethernet, is already showing explosive growth; Infonetics Research anticipates US$49 billion in sales of carrier Ethernet equipment over the next five years. With Ethernet LANs accelerating towards gigabit speeds, and optical fibre connecting continents at even greater speeds, why are most users restricted to Internet access at mere megabits per second? The problem is with what George Gilder called ‘the telechasm’, the interface between LAN and WAN technologies. By replacing traditional SONET WAN, Synchronous Optical Network - wide area network, technology with high speed Ethernet, carriers can bridge the telechasm, and deliver faster, more flexible communication across the board. A major attraction of this spread of Ethernet technology from the LAN to the WAN lies in its relative familiarity - many more people understand Ethernet and how to use and support it than more esoteric technologies like SONET and ATM. The downside of this was that a major educational drive was needed to convince people that Ethernet could be more than just a LAN technology. Nevertheless, it is now used worldwide in national and global networks, with access over fibre, copper, PON, passive optical network, cable and wireless networks. Ethernet has brought economies of scale as business, residential and wireless networks converged onto the same infrastructure. The specifications for Carrier-class Ethernet required building up the existing standard to meet the needs of wide area networking; specifically, the new specifications improve: 1. Scalability: in bandwidth (from 1Mbps to 10Gbps in granular increments on demand), in reach (from access and metro to national and global services), and in the number of users and services supported; 2. Reliability - end-to-end: 50 microsecond network-wide restoration capability in the event of link or node failure, so service providers could support traditional TDM traffic and data flows tailored to the characteristics of a switched circuit network; 3. QoS (quality of service) - a wide choice of options with Service Level Agreements, SLAs, that deliver end-to-end performance matching the requirements for voice, video and data over converged business and residential networks, based on CIR, Committed Information Rate, frame loss, delay and delay variation characteristics; 4. TDM, time division multiplexing, support - through emulation of E1, T1 and OC3 circuit services. This allows interoperability with legacy infrastructure plus the delivery of additional services, such as voice, just as on a traditional wide area network; and, 5. Services management - rapid service provision and carrier-class OAM, Operations Administration Maintenance, with the ability to monitor, diagnose and centrally manage the network, using standards-based vendor independent implementations. The MEF defined the standards and established the certification procedures to accelerate the deployment of Carrier Ethernet. The Carrier Ethernet Certification Program was designed to provide global assurance that products and equipment comply with the MEF technical specifications and implementation agreement. This helped simplify and accelerate the service providers’ equipment selection processes and reduce the need for repeated testing. Certification Any product or service that passes the test procedure proving it meets the relevant MEF specification (numbered xx) may now be labelled - ‘Certified Compliant to MEFxx’. Service providers can be assured that certified products meet MEF specifications, thereby increasing confidence that they can interoperate and support Carrier Ethernet Services according to that specification. Less time and effort is needed for complex inter-vendor equipment testing, so service providers can focus on their own network validation and operations and provide a quicker, more cost-effective response to their customers installation and upgrade demands. Certification establishes and maintains a solid foundation for Carrier Ethernet ubiquity, and interoperability Certifying Carrier Ethernet services provides customers with the assurance of compliance with the standard. It also provides greater confidence in the reliability of Service Level Agreements and their ability to operate consistent, seamless communications across nations and continents. It facilitates decisions regarding equipment and CPE purchases. The resulting cost savings can be passed on to the end users. Equipment vendors also benefit from product certification as globally recognised interoperability standards facilitate the ‘approval’ process, increase tender opportunities and dramatically reduce testing costs, time-to-market and installation times. The certification process also delivers an independent validation of the equipments’ function and conformance. The Carrier Ethernet opportunity The explosive growth of any new technology disrupts the previously existing markets. Suppliers of older, established technologies find their sales imploding and they look to new markets overseas to compensate for the loss. Those new or emerging markets may be subjected to considerable sales pressure in the form of price cuts and other incentives to ‘buy the equipment already used by all the major players’. It sounds attractive, but those major players have already begun to phase out the technology offered at such attractive terms. The real opportunity for those in emerging markets lies in installing the very latest solutions directly and gain a competitive advantage over the global giants burdened with a large, installed base of older technology. The latecomer can leapfrog the old technology and be first-to-market with the new improved service offering. Carrier Ethernet offers just such an opportunity. Adopting Carrier Ethernet services based on the latest specifications brings immediate benefits - and the benefits accrue with each step in the specification programme. Today, the world demands ubiquitous services - any application, via any type of network, on any device, using a full range of formats for voice, video or data. Services, including entertainment, video, voice and data from any source must be equally available at home, in the office, on the go, seamlessly and always connected on demand. Multiple devices, providers and billing processes will be a thing of the past when all this can be delivered via a single ubiquitous high-performance, global service. Carrier Ethernet can help make this happen. India’s carriers are working to reach the government’s target of 20 million broadband users by 2010. According to the TRAI, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, figures, India had 750,000 broadband connections (above 256 kbit/s) in November 2005, up from 690,000 in October and 610,000 in September, but far short of the three million target set for the end of that year. Rollout is accelerating, but has far to go. Carrier Ethernet offers great flexibility, with a choice of copper, fibre, cable or wireless access technologies. Emerging markets with little installed telecom infrastructure tend to find it easier to install wireless networks and India’s rural areas are no exception: 3.51 million of the telephone subscribers added in November 2005 were mobile customers, and most of the 280,000 fixed-line subscribers were connected using wireless local loop. So the opportunity exists for India to move directly to next-generation networking, without being handicapped by the West’s widespread commitment to its legacy telecom infrastructure. Carrier Ethernet - a familiar, well-understood technology that has been enhanced to meet the demands of 21st-century telecommunications - is the key to that opportunity.