There was a lot of traffic at this year’s Ethernet Europe in London. The two-day conference and exhibition saw a high number of industry experts and a Carrier Ethernet debate that shifted away from hardware and technology to deployment scalability and service development.

While a few years ago, there was a lot of debate about the different choices of backhaul technologies including fiber, copper and microwave, there is now much greater agreement on making use of all technology alternatives available to build networks aligned with business needs. The ubiquitous delivery of services and their efficient management to enable new applications became far more important – whether for business, mobile backhaul or wholesale.

No question, the market has matured and operators now put more emphasis on optimizing their Carrier Ethernet networks to provide deployment simplicity and remove constraints for enabling future service evolution. One important aspect is the consolidation of the access and backhaul network architectures. Since platforms and operational processes for business, mobile backhaul and wholesale Ethernet are often different and have evolved during different phases of the Carrier Ethernet technology evolution, a consolidated solution is needed to serve the different needs efficiently.

This particularly applies to the service aggregation nodes in tomorrow’s access and backhaul networks. While extensive service management functions form the basis for providing operational efficiency and adapting to business processes, the scalability of their implementation needs to be high to support many hundreds or even thousands of services. Only a versatile and high-performing implementation will allow network operators to efficiently run their networks while delivering services that meet the most stringent performance and availability requirements.

The same applies to the distribution of timing information over Ethernet backhaul networks. Mobile base stations will be connected in many different ways and with different backhaul capacities. But they all require the same accurate timing information to guarantee a seamless operation of the mobile network. Versatility and operational efficiently is key here as well, with many of the open questions being associated with performance and management rather than the underlying technology.

While just entering the next phase of Carrier Ethernet technology development that is focusing on deployment scalability and service development, the market is adopting quickly to these demands. New aggregation solutions such as edge gateways for versatile and scalable Ethernet backhaul networks are becoming available, all supported by service management platforms to enable operators to run their networks more efficiently than ever before.