The Metro Ethernet Forum has certified its first group of vendor products as conformant with the organisation's "Carrier Ethernet" specifications.

Thirty-nine products from 16 vendors passed the certification process, which was conducted by Iometrix, a tester of enterprise and WAN technologies and an MEF member.

MEF began its certification process in April. The programme is intended to facilitate consistency among worldwide carrier Ethernet services.

All the products were tested by Iometrix in accordance with its MEF-approved “Test Plan for Ethernet Services at the UNI.” Certificates state whether they deliver Ethernet Private Line, Ethernet Virtual Private Line and/or multipoint-to-multipoint Ethernet LAN services compliant with the MEF 9 technical specifications.

Product certification is expected to reduce the time and cost of conformance testing and accelerate the deployment of new systems, MEF says. It is also expected to provide greater service consistency for end users and to accelerate service providers' ability to evaluate multiple vendors’ equipment and respond to new orders or upgrades, MEF claims.

The market for Ethernet services is expected to explode in coming years as enterprises look to it as a cheaper, more flexible alternative to private lines. The worldwide market for Ethernet services was US$2.5 billion in 2004 and is expected to more than double this year, according to Infonetics Research. From there, Ethernet service revenue is expected to jump another 276 percent by 2009 to $22.2 billion.

In addition to business services, Ethernet is also being deployed as a backhaul technology for Wi-Fi and triple-play services.