Bob Metcalfe, the father of the Ethernet, helped launch the latest Carrier Ethernet-based WANs at NetEvents last week which promised improved service level agreements.

Metcalfe and his team at 3Com brought about the first Ethernet networks for LAN connections in 1973, and almost 40 years later oversaw the launch of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 at the NetEvents business IT symposium in Garmisch, Germany.

Up to now Carrier Ethernet has been used by telcos and service providers to connect firms wanting to join their different LANs and WANs to other locations, using a familiar networking protocol. Until the arrival of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 though this was normally done using capacity provided by a single provider, meaning connectivity was more limited.

Carrier Ethernet 2.0 delivers service levels to enable say, Deutsche Telecom, to offer a Carrier Ethernet service to a customer using network capacity provided by British Telcom, to provide a greater patchwork of coverage for connecting their sites across the world without having to use different protocols.

Carrier Ethernet is seen as a cheaper and more scalable solution for this type of connectivity, and the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), which controls the Carrier Ethernet standard, launched its first version of the carrier class protocol seven years ago.

Those selling joined up networks of Carrier Ethernet to customers will promise customers improved SLAs no matter how many different providers they use to deliver the service or which geographies are served.

Metcalfe told NetEvents attendees: "Just as the web browser revolutionised the efficiency and usability of the internet, a new Ethernet will revolutionise the efficiency and usability of Ethernet service delivery."

Mike Volgende, board chairman of the MEF, said: "For the enterprise Carrier Ethernet means there should not be surprises or differences in the performance aspect of the SLA, regardless of the office locations."

So that's the promise, but as Ian Keene, an analyst at Gartner said that it will be interesting to see how reliable the standard turns out to be: "It sounds good in principle but customers will be keeping a close watch on what they are getting. If there is a service problem they won't want to be told by their host carrier that it is down to another provider further down the line."