By the early 2000s, however, Gigabit Ethernet technology was just on the verge of challenging both SONET and DWDM as the high-bandwidth transport medium of choice. In 2001, Cisco remained THE leader in Ethernet switching and the growing Ethernet transport (think of Cerent’s MSPP, for example) markets.
The “Internet Company” was riding the Ethernet growth curve as ATM technology waned and innovative Ethernet solutions zoomed to the forefront. Customers (especially large enterprises) ruled and the telco service providers were taken to task to deliver direct Ethernet connectivity rather than ATM- or Frame Relay-based data services. Ethernet/IP was in vogue and its ascension was assured when large telco companies such as AT&T and tw telecom embraced Ethernet .
Pioneer Consulting produced a study, Gigabit Ethernet: Equipment and Service Provider Opportunities in Multiple Markets, in 2001, that predicted “total worldwide equipment sales for all types of Ethernet [would] increase more than eightfold, from $17.3 billion in 2001 to $145.2 billion by 2005.”
Zeroing in on revenue growth for Gigabit Ethernet equipment suppliers, Pioneer Consulting provided another perspective: “Growth for Gigabit Ethernet equipment suppliers over [those] five years, [was] expected to increase from $4.5 billion in 2001 to $44 billion by 2005,” a tenfold increase.
Indeed, before the end of 2000, Cisco’s ONS 15454 reached #1 metro Gigabit Ethernet market share with over 3,000 ports deployed . . . and that was with its first generation switched Ethernet capability (known as E-series), developed by Cerent’s data engineers headed by Bob Bortolotto.
The initial Gigabit Ethernet offering was soon eclipsed with a 10-Gigabit Ethernet plug-in module on the ‘454.’ As Fiber Optics News reported in late 2001, “There are two main differences between 10 Gbps Ethernet and other speeds of Ethernet. First is the inclusion of a [long-haul] optical transceiver . . . that can be used with either the LAN PHY for building [Metropolitan Area networks] . . . or the WAN PHY option, which allows 10 Gbps Ethernet to be transparently transported across existing OC-192 SONET/SDH infrastructures. This 10 Gbps Ethernet interconnects Ethernet LANs that are now operating at 10, 100, or 1,000 Mbps.”
The continued increase in Internet traffic helped drive this standard and products complying with this IEEE definition were delivered to the marketplace quickly. CLECs and Internet Service Providers jumped on the 10-Gigabit Ethernet bandwagon first, as they could establish “very high-speed links at a very low cost, between co-located, carrier class switches and routers. The technology [allowed] the construction of MANs and WANs that connect[ed] geographically dispersed LANs between campuses or [carrier Points-of-Presence]. These connections [used] dark fiber, dark wavelengths, or SONET/SDH networks, [a role that MSPPs like Cisco’s ONS 15454 elegantly filled].”
As Pioneer’s McEuen said, in Fiber Optics News, in late 2001, “The North American Ethernet equipment market will lead the marketplace because of its intense competitive environment, leadership in equipment production and supply, and concentration of Internet traffic.”
And it did. The IP over optical vision of Cerent’s management team, realized by Cisco’s IP + Optical implementation, rapidly brought Ethernet-based services to the global marketplace, facilitating the rise of the IP-intensive ‘network of things’ we enjoy today.
 AT&T represented the Tier 1 service provider acceptance of Ethernet-based service offerings and tw telecom represented the competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) seeking business customers with its Metropolitan Ethernet service offerings. By March 19, 2003, the following customers were using tw telecom’s Metro Ethernet services over a Cerent 454 infrastructure. A tw telecom press release boasted, “Customers already experiencing the value of Time Warner Telecom Native LAN services include: First Tennessee National (Memphis), Bank of the West (San Francisco), Epic Imaging (Portland, Oregon), Carondelet Health Network (Tucson, Arizona), New York Unified Court System (Albany, N.Y.), University of Rochester (Rochester, N.Y.), Chase Manhattan Mortgage (Columbus, Ohio), . . .” and many more.
 The Ethernet story was originally reported by Fiber Optics News, “Gigabit Ethernet Market to Challenge DWDM, SONET,” in its November 12, 2001 issue, pp.4-5, 8.
 Unlike earlier Ethernet standards, 10-Gigabit Ethernet defines full duplex point-to-point links, which are generally connected by networked Ethernet switches. Half duplex operation is not supported. By 2011, an estimated nine million ports of 10-Gigbit Ethernet had shipped. Below is a graphic highlighting a timeline for the Ethernet standards through 2016 and the period when MSPPs played a key role in ‘Carrier Ethernet’ networks.
Source: Sales of 100GbE router ports to more than double by 2018: IHS Markit, Lightwave, 1/14/17.