Metro Ethernet F.A.Q.

What is a Metro Ethernet?

  • A Metro Ethernet is a computer network that covers a city sized area  (sometimes a whole LATA) using Ethernet protocol.  It is typically a layer 2 network that connects devices or Local Area Networks (LANs) together at two or more locations with speeds of 10Mbps to 1Gpbs.  Transport is by optical fiber and is usually terminated by a standard copper Ethernet port.  To the customer device, the Metro Ethernet network looks like an Ethernet switch where other locations are attached.


What are the advantages of Metro Ethernet?

  • Metro Ethernet is often used like a frame relay network - only faster... with more features... and cheaper.  It can be used as a point to point or point to multipoint network.  Frame relay uses the T-carrier telecom model (T1, DS3, etc), while metro Ethernet uses the familiar Ethernet model (10, 100, Gigabit).  At the least, this means far less expensive equipment on the customer side.  Ethernet based routers are much less expensive than T1, DS3, or OC12 capable routers.  So it is easily and inexpensively connected to the client network.

  • Metro Ethernet offers other advantages also.  It is VLAN capable.  So, a single connection can be used for more than one purpose.  For instance, the home office might use a metro Ethernet link to connect to five satellite offices.  But it might also use the same Metro Ethernet leg to connect to the Internet via an Ethernet enabled ISP.


What can I do with a Metro Ethernet connection?

  • Connect offices or campuses together at LAN speeds.  No waiting for files to load.  Print across town.  Replicate fileservers to a disaster recovery site.  Backup data off site. 

  • Using QinQ (aka VLAN tunneling), a feature available on most Metro Ethernet offerings, office VLANs can be extended to other offices intact.  So the printers can be on their own VLAN, a DMZ can be extended, etc. Some offices can be on the same VLAN, while others are on a different one, with a Layer 3 router connecting them.  But only one Metro Ethernet leg needs to be brought in to each location.

  • Connect to the Internet via a Metro Ethernet enabled ISP.  High speeds are obtained at much lower prices than using multiple T1s, fractional or full DS3, OC3 or OC12.


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