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Fiber Too Expensive? Try EoC

As business applications become more and more demanding and dependent on IP and Ethernet protocols, Carrier Ethernet has emerged as the WAN technology of choice for enterprise access.  Carrier Ethernet promises an efficient, simple, scalable and cost-effective solution whether you are using it for dedicated internet access, connections to cloud applications, or VPN. 

Ethernet for business applications is estimated to grow substantially through 2015.  Of course, fiber optic connectivity is the preferred method service, but Ethernet over Copper (EoC) has become a strategic choice as well for its competitive price and service.  There are a few main reasons why companies may choose EoC, among them :

1.  It’s Ethernet.  Some new technologies promising broadband service may only be used for internet access or basic voice service.  Ethernet meets business-class symmetric service requirements, providing scalable, reliable and manageable features.  EoC delivers the service businesses have come to expect. 

2.  Fiber options may be very limited.  Currently only about 30% of businesses have access to fiber.  The cost to upgrade is very expensive, and it takes anywhere from 6-18 months to install.  Many companies do not want to wait that long, or invest so much money in the service.  Most facilities are connected to the legacy copper voice network, which makes it easy to transition to EoC in a matter of weeks.  Many providers have found they can increase speeds ten-fold with EoC, which may be enough for most companies.

3.  EoC is on par with fiber.  Nearly all service providers have multiple service classes, including many premium products,  in order to deliver the customer experience your company needs.  Most of them are able to provide a service equal to fiber-based Ethernet services.

4. Innovations in technology have advanced EoC capabilities.  New generations of EoC edge and aggregation equipment have increased capabilities to over 15 Mbps symmetric per copper pair, and providers can now deploy 200+ Mbps Ethernet.  This gives you the service at a fraction of the cost. 

The popularity of carrier Ethernet for business WAN service creates the demand that can’t be completely met with fiber.  Advances in EoC give businesses a good alternative that provides equal service at a fraction of the cost.

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MPLS: Layer 2 or Layer 3?

Is MPLS a Layer 2 or Layer 3 service?  Good question, and there has been a lot of confusion about this through the years. You see, MPLS doesn’t fit neatly into the OSI seven-layer hierarchy. One of the important benefits of MPLS is that it separates forwarding mechanisms from the underlying data-link service. MPLS can be used to create forwarding tables for ATM or frame relay switches (using the existing ATM or DLCI header) or for plain old IP routers by appending MPLS tags to IP packets.
 
So realistically,  network operators can use MPLS to deliver a wide variety of services. Two of the most popular uses of MPLS are layer 3 BGP/MPLS-VPNs (based on RFC 2547) and Layer 2 (or pseudowire) VPNs.
 
RFC 2547 VPNs have been implemented by most of the major service providers.The main characteristics of a 2547 is that traffic is isolated into MPLS-VPNs as it enters the network.
 
Interior routers have no knowledge of IP information beyond the label-only base forwarding decisions on the MPLS label. BGP is used by edge routers to exchange knowledge of VPNs.  This allows service providers to isolate traffic from multiple users over a shared backbone.
 
There are several types of layer 2 MPLS services, and what they have in common is that a Layer 2 packet (or ATM cell or frame relay frame) is encased in an MPLS header and forwarded through the MPLS core. When it reaches the other side, the packet’s labels are removed, and the packet that arrives at the ultimate destination exactly where it entered the MPLS network. Thus, Layer 2 MPLS services effectively extend services such as Ethernet or frame relay across an IP WAN.