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Metropolitan Networks

Dr.Suresh Gopalakrishnan
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Dr.Suresh Gopalakrishnan
“FASTER AND CHEAPER” ARE FREQUENTLY HEARD rallying cries from the supporters of the bandwidth revolution. At the height of the bandwidth revolution, telecommunications carriers drastically increased the capacity of their networks, which now run at speeds of up to 10 Gbps. However, even today businesses are typically connecting their networks at speeds of less than 2 Mbps—just as they did in the late ‘80s. Worse off still are home users who typically connect to the Internet over dial-up lines at speeds of 28-56 Kbps.

The last few years saw the rise and fall of a set of carriers who tried to offer cheap, Ethernet-based bandwidth access lines using new optical fiber build outs or leasing lines from regional bell operating companies (RBOCs). The large amount of money required to build or lease their networks and the inability to convince corporate customers to switch to a new and unproven carrier, ultimately doomed these carriers to failure.

While these carriers failed, the concept of high-speed broadband access and services at affordable prices has remained. Now, carriers are attempting to reconcile the capital costs of deploying new Ethernet networks with the potential return on investment from Ethernet-based services.

Let's take a look at how the industry is adopting Ethernet to provide faster and more cost effective broadband access.

Where We Are Today
Deployments by the new competitive telecommunications carriers proved that Ethernet as an access technology can provide the scalable, affordable and flexible bandwidth to satisfy even the most demanding of users. This technology has the simplicity and ubiquity to enable a wide range of value-added services, such as storage area networks, outsourced applications and virtual private networks (VPNs). These deployments also revealed a new set of considerations that would impede any large-scale roll out:
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