Ethernet First Mile Alliance. "Ethernet First Mile: Making Universal Broadband Access a Reality." A white paper by EFMA. 2002. Link Accessed: 2003-07-08.

Keywords: Ethernet, First Mile, broadband, EFMA


Ethernet First Mile Allance (EFMA) was formed in 2001 and is a consortium of industry leading companies focused on promoting the adoption of Ethernet technology in public networks. EFMA plays a marketing and technical role; while the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) is developing Ethernet fiber to the home (EFM) standards, called P802.3ah, EFMA is raising awareness and acceptance of EFM in the marketplace. Both endeavors have the goal of a simple, cost effective, high bandwidth network infrastructure for data, voice, video and a global standard for interoperability.

The First Mile Bottleneck

The first mile is the network link between the end user and the public network.
At one end of the link is the network operator’s equipment (access node) which acts as an entrance or exit to the public network. The access node receives, concentrates and directs data to and from networks. The users at the other end of the link connects to the public network through variety of possible access technologies, such as, DSL, Cable modem, ISDN, T1, OC3.

Ethernet as an access technology is well known in business and residential networks. EFM scales easily and allows flexible bandwidth management, which makes the technology scalable to meet users needs and cost effective to meet market demands. Ethernet reduces network operator equipment cost and operational expenses because it is one single, end-to-end transmission protocol which simplifies access equipment, network nodes and translations. Reduced protocol translations translate to efficiency gains for the network.

Typical first mile technologies are:
• twisted pair copper , DSL dominates first mile
• fiber optic
• coaxial cable, cable modem.

Copper and cable technologies are good for moderate speed internet access.

The IEEE EFM task force will define and support three subscriber access topologies;
• EFMC - uses the existing wire infrastructure, 10Mbps up to 750 meters, best for multi-tenant units (apartments, hotels, office buildings), no new wiring required
• EFMF - cost effective solution for customers with T1 and T3 100-1K Mbps up to 10km, best suited for urban centers were fiber is plentiful
• EFMFP eliminates the need for electrical equipment in the first mile network, optical fiber, > 1000Mbps up to 20km

These are complementary architectures with a single approach for transmitting information and supports a broad base of users. The EFM standard will define operations, administration and maintenance aspects of the technology so the network operators can manage, monitor and troubleshoot using a common set of tools and procedures. These management protocols and architecture will work across all EFM supported topologies.