Processor Magazine - Ethernet WANs: An Overview


(9-Apr-10)  Ethernet is to the world of data networking what low-frequency AC is to electric power distribution: the foundational universal standard for the world’s infrastructure. Yet Ethernet’s original conception and implementation targeted LANs and provided only limited signal propagation. This meant WANs, such as the Internet’s backbone, were built using protocols such as frame relay and ATM derived from the telephone system.

Later technology supporting Ethernet on fiber-optic cable greatly increased its range, which made the dot-com boom’s leftover inventory of dark fiber an ideal vehicle for extending Ethernet across the WAN, yet assumptions in the core protocol still hobbled its feasibility as a WAN alternative. This led the MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) to coordinate development of standards and technology extensions to accommodate carrier-class Ethernet WAN service.

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