• United States

IEEE looks to advance Ethernet in metro area

Mar 16, 20062 mins

* Results of IEEE call for interest on Ethernet over passive optical networks

Last week the IEEE held a “call for interest” session on the topic of expanding Ethernet support on passive optical networks. There was much interest expressed, and attendees decided to form a study group to pursue a possible standard.

The presentations on the IEEE Web site lay out the case for a standard. Ethernet in the First Mile was standardized as 802.3ah in 2004, extending the LAN technology into metropolitan-area networks. Since then, the technology has been deployed by carriers – and, according to the presentations, equipment cost has dropped 50% and the cost of optics has dropped 70%.

Today, the presenters argue, the floodgates have been opened for a range of very high-bandwidth services – HDTV, video on demand, and online video games among them. The presenters say that in a few years more video will be on-demand, and that certainly seems to be the trend. Throw in IP telephony, Internet access and who-knows-what-else, and you have a need for speed.

Plus, the presenters say “fourth-generation” mobile technologies, providing 30Mbps per user and 100Mbps to 1Gbps per access point, are coming, and some sort of higher-bandwidth backhaul technology is necessary to carry all that traffic.

So the group is looking at moving to a 10Gbps PHY for Ethernet passive optical networks (EPON). This would be either 10Gbps in both directions or 10Gbps downstream and 1Gbps upstream.

Carriers are considering other architectures to reach higher bandwidth, and some manufacturers are already working on proprietary high-speed EPON. These are conditions that usually push standards bodies to act, and if you believe that Ethernet belongs everywhere, this would be the time to put a standard in motion.