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What Metro E Is All About

Metro Ethernet is a telecom service that can improve your network performance and save you money on WAN bandwidth.

By: John Shepler

Metro E is short for Metro Ethernet, a popular and rapidly expanding network connection service.

It's The Ethernet You Are Familiar With
Metro E is Ethernet like the protocol you run on your Local Area Network (LAN). But it has been standardized and adapted to also run on a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). The organization behind this standardization is the MEF or Metro Ethernet Forum. It’s an industry standards organization dedicated to Carrier Ethernet.

What You Need To Know
Here’s why you should you know about Metro E and seriously consider using it for your business connectivity. Metro Ethernet services are better suited to today’s packet switched networks than the legacy telecom services such as T1. Connectivity is almost trivial. Ethernet is what nearly all networks are running as a protocol. The connection from your service provider is an Ethernet jack. That’s it. No need for special conversion equipment to connect to your switches and routers.

Support By Competitive Carriers
Metro E is supported by a number of incumbent telecom carriers, plus many new competitive service providers that have no connection to legacy telephone services. Nearly all of these new competitors have built their networks on fiber optic lines and IP or MPLS core networks. Metro Ethernet services are easily transported on these networks. The result of all this competition is that Metro E prices are often considerably lower per Mbps than T1, DS3, or OCx bandwidth. It is not uncommon to get 3 Mbps Ethernet service for the same price as 1.5 Mbps T1 and similarly reduced costs at higher bandwidths.

Line or LAN Service
Like other telecom services, Metro Ethernet can be set up to provide point to point connectivity between two business locations. Unlike older technologies, Ethernet Line Service can be configured as a layer 2 connection between two LANs, effectively connecting them to make one larger LAN. Ethernet LAN Service, or ELAN, can do the same thing for multiple locations. It’s a high performance and cost effective way for businesses to tie-together branch offices, factories, headquarters and warehouses. It works just as well for hospitals and their related medical centers in the area.

Last Mile Access Uses
Another use for Metro E is as an access network connection. Metro E links are used as last mile connections to larger MPLS networks for national or worldwide service. They are also used as dedicated broadband Internet connections for small, medium and large organizations.

Readily Scalable Bandwidth
Metro E bandwidth tends to be easily scalable. Service at 3 Mbps is a popular entry level bandwidth. Many companies move up to 10 Mbps, a standard LAN speed. Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps and 10 Gigabit Ethernet are other standard LAN speeds that are also supported by Metro E providers. While these speeds are popular, most providers offer incremental bandwidths between each of these levels. You can order any bandwidth up to the limit of your installed Ethernet port. Start with what you need now and easily upgrade as the need arises.

It's a Metropolitan Service
One thing you should know is that the Metro in Metro E generally means just that. This service is available in most metropolitan areas, but rarely in rural areas. It may be possible to get Ethernet connectivity over T1 lines, called EoDS1. This is a way to extend service to include remote business locations.

If Metro E the right service for your business situation? A quick way to find out is to request a list of Metro E service levels and prices for your business location or locations.

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