Wide Area Ethernet (WAE)

Wide Area Ethernet (WAE) or Ethernet WAN (also sometimes referred to as fiber or LAN extension service ) is a network carrier service that delivers high-speed wide area network (WAN) connectivity, utilizing Ethernet as the connection method. Positioned as an alternative to traditional wide area connections such as leased line, frame relay or T1 services, Wide Area Ethernet simplifies linking remote sites and enables bandwidth-heavy applications such as multicast video streaming.

Wide Area Ethernet (WAE) is the delivery of high-speed wide area network (WAN) service using Ethernet connectivity. Essentially, WAE is a virtual private network (VPN) service that simplifies linking remote locations. WAE is marketed as an alternative to traditional wide area connections such as leased line, frame relay or T1 services.

Wide Area Ethernet maintains the high bandwidth and simplicity of Layer 2 Ethernet. The flat network design makes the connected sites appear as a single logical network and simplifies connectivity back to the headquarters and between remote sites.

Virtual Private LAN Services (VPLS) delivers Layer 2 connectivity to all endpoints in a WAE configuration. VPLS enables the carriers to bring the various WAN connections (over either IP or MPLS networks) together as a single logical Ethernet network for the customer and allows administrators to define Quality of Service (QoS) levels for the wide area connection, to ensure that audio or video applications get their required bandwidth.

Other advantages of Wide Area Ethernet:

  • Ethernet technologies are widely used, which allows administrators to use existing infrastructure and obviates the need for dedicated serial or other custom interfaces on routers at the headquarters or remote branches.
  • Most administrators are familiar with the Ethernet interface.
  • By staying within the data-link layer of the OSI model, WAE enables broadcast traffic such as multicast video streaming to be simply pushed out across the WAN, without any redesign of the network.
  • WAE offers higher connection speeds than those offered with traditional WAN connectivity.

According to a study from the Insight Research Corp., the Carrier Ethernet services market is forecast to increase from $2.4 billion in 2009 to nearly $7.8 billion by 2014.

Wide Area Ethernet is sometimes called Ethernet WAN and is sometimes referred to as fiber or LAN extension service.

See also: Metro Ethernet

This was first published in June 2010

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