Carrier Ethernet

What Does Carrier Ethernet Mean?

Carrier Ethernet is a version of Ethernet. It is overseen by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) who has an official definition for the technology. The MEF defines Carrier Ethernet as: "a ubiquitous, standardized, carrier-class Service and Network defined by five attributes that distinguish Carrier Ethernet from familiar LAN based Ethernet.”


The five distinguishing attributes are:

  1. Standardized Services
  2. Scalability
  3. Reliability
  4. Quality of Service
  5. Service Management

Techopedia Explains Carrier Ethernet

You can think of Carrier Ethernet as a bridge that reconciles the advantages of Ethernet with the requirements of service providers.

Early Ethernet services were based on standard Ethernet switches and IEEE standards 802.1(a) and (d). These services had to face challenges such as limited traffic engineering, lack of scalability, limited quality of service and limited protection. These drawbacks led to the development of Carrier Ethernet. Operators around the world use carrier Ethernet to support Ethernet enterprise services and residential "triple play" services.

There are 30+ technical specifications that provide the exact definitions to Carrier Ethernet. These specs are oveseen by the MEF, who works closely with industry and other standards bodies. In order for a product or service to claim the title of "Carrier Ethernet" it must be certified by the MEF.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.