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Strong interest for Carrier Ethernet in SA

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With Carrier Ethernet, SA is poised for dramatic improvements in the availability and quality of communications, says the MEF.
With Carrier Ethernet, SA is poised for dramatic improvements in the availability and quality of communications, says the MEF.

There is a strong interest in adopting Carrier Ethernet by South African companies if the responses at the recent Carrier Ethernet 2.0 and Lifecycle Service Orchestration Seminar are anything to go by.

This is according to the organisers of the event - the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), a non-profit international industry consortium dedicated to the worldwide adoption of Carrier Ethernet networks.

Gary Williams, South African marketing co-chair for the MEF and head of pre-sales engineering at Metrofibre Networx, says: "The turnout was outstanding in numbers, quality and level of interest...we had 127 attendees from 89 companies - including service providers, VARs and vendors. This promises a lot for South African business."

MetroFibre Networx was SA's first MEF member - the number is now six - and the company owns and manages the country's first globally compliant Carrier Ethernet 2.0 open access fibre network, connecting over 60 cloud, application, voice and Internet service providers with their customers.

The MEF believes with Carrier Ethernet, SA is poised for dramatic improvements in the availability and quality of communications for business and the home.

WAN pressure

With unified communications, VOIP and a general increase in data transfer putting increased bandwidth and performance pressure on wide area networks, legacy technologies like frame relay are being put out to pasture.

Carrier Ethernet offers a lower price point per Mbps, increasing its value for high bandwidth connectivity for major enterprises, data centres or wholesale services. The MEF notes that Carrier Ethernet is a solution for both present and future business needs, especially with regard to enterprise communications applications and big data management.

Dr Marten Scheffer, GM of network engineering at Neotel, says historically, MEF has managed, through engagement with all stakeholders, to improve the standardisation and adoption of the Carrier Ethernet technology globally compared to other technologies.

For the South African industry, he believes, MEF has come at an optimal time. "The introduction of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certification brings with it 240 certified devices and over 44 equipment manufacturers into an industry that is coming into its own regarding networking requirements and service provider internetworking," says Scheffer.

"Network service providers can leverage each other's infrastructure more simply and faster through well-defined standardised standards. This allows for quicker times to market for related services and, hence, better ROI. Carrier Ethernet and the services it makes possible means enterprises and even small business can benefit from better quality, faster and much more affordable networks."

According to Daniel Bar-Lev, MEF director of certification and strategic programmes, as cable capacity in African markets expands, Carrier Ethernet is becoming the technology of choice for service providers and enterprises that demand flexible bandwidth.

Need for training

Among those present at the seminar, Ben Maddison, technical director, Workonline Communications, agreed that Carrier Ethernet was becoming "the automatic choice when enterprises want to link their IP services to their offices - it is transitioning from niche product into mainstream".

Another contributing factor he noted was "the continuing improvement in the continent's regulatory environments".

Craig Easley, president dean of academic affairs at the Carrier Ethernet Academy, pointed out the growing need for training of both engineers and sales people to ensure the right high quality services to this growing market.

Michele McCann, business development manager at Teraco Data environments, agreed: "Understanding the language is important for it will give you credibility with customers". She pointed out that enterprises adopting MEF standards are the ones sure of future success.

Summing up, Bar-Lev pointed out Carrier Ethernet services' bandwidth is projected to exceed 75% of total global business bandwidth by 2017 and: "In Africa the opportunity is ripe to greatly enhance the way people work, live and play with Carrier Ethernet services."

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