Metro Ethernet really is cheaper to deliver (and therefore to buy) than current private line services, according to new research from the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), which represents major hardware vendors.

The MEF has long claimed service providers could save up to 50 per cent on operational expenses (opex), if they adopted Ethernet as a transport for private line services to enterprises in place of Frame Relay and other technologies. Now the MEF says it has proof in the shape of its new report, commissioned from Point East Research.

If vindicated, it could lead to significant falls in leased line prices for end users. However information about when those new services will emerge, and from whom, has proved elusive. The MEF expects enterprise IT managers to demand Ethernet services from their providers.

The MEF study examined live data in the US and Europe from 36 service providers, including in the UK, BT and Cable & Wireless, Neos Networks and Fibernet. Potential opex savings reached 23 per cent for companies with existing leased line services, much higher for newer providers.

Report author Brian van Steen said that "the UK is one of the most competitive markets". He commented that he expected the big incumbent carriers to launch new services within the next two years.

BT's head of UK Ethernet services, Alan Davis, said, "Ethernet is a perfect fit for providing connectivity in metropolitan areas, as it combines carrier-grade robustness with the flexibility, performance and the cost-effectiveness needed for the distribution of high bandwidth services to a large customer base."