Last week’s SCTE Business Services Symposium in Chicago had some wondering what a “MEF” was after the first few sessions. The Metro Ethernet Forum describes itself as “a non-profit organization chartered with the mission of accelerating worldwide adoption of carrier class Ethernet networks and services. The Forum is comprised of leading service providers, major incumbent local exchange carriers, top network equipment vendors, test equipment vendors and other prominent networking companies that share an interest in metro Ethernet.” The MEF has more than 80 members as of July 2006. As for cable representation, Cox Business Services is now a member (having joined three weeks ago) as is Time Warner Cable. Optimum Lightpath, the CLEC division of Cablevision, was the first subsidiary of a cable operator to be certified by MEF, and it’s currently seeking MEF 14 certification. MEF 14 will include separating traffic for different applications and more work on managing QoS. While MEF membership is chock full of telcos, Lightpath won an award from the organization earlier this year after it switched to all Metro Ethernet services last year as a means of transport to its business accounts. Time Warner Cable was a finalist in last year’s competition. Call to arms Lightpath Executive Vice President and General Manager David Pistacchio issued a call to arms for cable operators to become more involved with MEF. “MEF certification did give us credibility in the marketplace,” Pistacchio said. “MEF’s value is that it gives us the opportunity to provide credibility to our customers and interconnectivity with other carriers. As more MSOs participate in MEF, I worry about Verizon and AT&T making it more complex than it needs to be.” MEF certification MEF certification for Lightpath was probably easier than what some other cable operators will face. Lightpath has a ringed topology in its fiber network, and its footprint covers parts of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t challenges for the Lightpath engineering team to overcome. “It was pretty intuitive for us being a fiber-based network,” said Troy Glick, vice president, product management, for Lightpath. “We did have to make sure that we were integrated, that there was no ‘one offs’ in the network, because it had to operate as one entity. The ‘gotcha’ was folding the physical system into the virtual, doing Internet and voice over the same pipe.” The challenge for most MSOs will be geographical. Cox’s Kristine Faulkner, vice president, product development management of Cox Business Services, said during her session at the symposium that Cox has to work across 17 markets and with different vendors in those markets. Time Warner Cable is “aggressively” seeking MEF certification, according to Time Warner Cable’s Kurt Fennel, vice president, product management. While TWC is currently decentralized in its systems, Fennel said it’s working on creating regional networks. “There’s a lot of work for Time Warner Cable at the regional level and at the metro layer,” Fennel said during an afternoon session at the conference. Several speakers at the symposium spoke about the need for CableLabs, CTAM and MEF to work together on standards and solutions. “We need to go on the offensive by working with CTAM and CableLabs on the verticals,” Fennel said. “MEF is not mystical, and the telcos want us out of it. We need to be more involved and take a proactive approach.” – Mike Robuck

The Daily


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