Metro Ethernet vs. Carrier Ethernet: Clarifying the Difference

Metro Ethernet and carrier Ethernet are two Ethernet services that closely related but differs in their coverage.

Metro Ethernet is an Ethernet transport network that provides high-speed data transmission within a metropolitan area.

It is an Ethernet services used to interconnect organization having branches geographically dispersed within a metropolitan area.

Carrier Ethernet, on the other hand, is an Ethernet transport network that provides high-speed data transmission within a wide area, like a state or country. Carrier Ethernet is closely related to wide area networks except that carrier Ethernet only employs wired connections, while wide area networks can employ both wired and wireless connections.

In this article, we will delve into Metro Ethernet vs. Carrier Ethernet, exploring how they compare in different scenarios.

Metro Ethernet vs. Carrier Ethernet:10 Key Differences

  1. Coverage: Metro Ethernet is an Ethernet service that covers a metropolitan area, typically within a campus or a small town. On the other hand, carrier Ethernet extends its reach over a broader scale, spanning a city, state, or even an entire country.
  2. Both Metro Ethernet and Carrier Ethernet make use of the Ethernet standard to facilitate connectivity.
  3. Cost: Because Metro Ethernet spans a shorter distance than carrier Ethernet, it is less expensive than carrier Ethernet.
  4. Application: Metro Ethernet suits small-sized companies with all their infrastructure and branches situated within a limited region, while carrier Ethernet is best suited for enterprises with branches dispersed across a country or an extensive geographical span.
  5. Metro Ethernet can efficiently employ a local area network (using a single router) and a switch to provide connectivity to branches within a metropolitan area, while carrier Ethernet usually needs multiple LANs, hence necessitating multiple customer edge routers for each branch.
  6. Cabling: Metro Ethernet can use only twisted pair cable, which can distribute the internet for a distance of 100 meters across all the branches, while carrier Ethernet must use both fiber optic cable and twisted pair cable to distribute the services across all the branches.
  7. Components: Both metro Ethernet and carrier Ethernet contain similar components like switches, fiber optic cables, and routers, but carrier Ethernet usually contains more routers than metro Ethernet.
  8. Bandwidth: Carrier Ethernet, catering to enterprises with a higher count of branches scattered over considerable distances, usually offers more extensive bandwidth than Metro Ethernet. This augmented bandwidth allocation enhances overall performance levels.
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Metro Ethernet vs. Carrier Ethernet: FAQs

Here are some frequently asked question on Metro Ethernet Vs. Carrier ethernet:

Metro Ethernet vs. Carrier Ethernet: Which offers better scalability?

Both Metro Ethernet and Carrier Ethernet offer scalability options for network expansion. However, Carrier Ethernet tends to provide greater scalability due to its broader coverage and the ability to connect multiple sites across a larger area.

Does Metro Ethernet or Carrier Ethernet provide better QoS ?

Both Metro Ethernet and Carrier Ethernet can provide good QoS capabilities. The actual QoS capabilities may vary depending on the service provider and the specific implementation.

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Are there any cost differences on implementation of Metro Ethernet or Carrier Ethernet?

In general, Carrier Ethernet involve higher costs due to its broader coverage and larger-scale infrastructure requirements.

Can Metro Ethernet & Carrier Ethernet be used interchangeably?

While Metro Ethernet and Carrier Ethernet share similarities, they have distinct use cases. Metro Ethernet is typically employed for local area network (LAN) extension within a metropolitan area, whereas Carrier Ethernet is designed for wider area network (WAN) connectivity across larger regions.


Choosing between Metro Ethernet and Carrier Ethernet requires careful consideration of your organization’s specific needs, goals, and budget.

Metro Ethernet is ideal for businesses with multiple branches within a metropolitan area, offering cost-effective and scalable connectivity.

Carrier Ethernet, with its broader coverage, better SLAs, and advanced features, suits organizations with geographically dispersed operations and high-performance demands.

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You need to assess your business’s bandwidth needs and potential future expansion (scalability) before making your decision

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