The concept of Active Ethernet was first introduced in 2004 with the IEEE 802.3ah standard, Ethernet in the first mile (EFM). With this standard, it became possible to use a standard Ethernet architecture as an access technology for residential access. Triple-play services (voice, video and data) can now be delivered over Ethernet architecture. The standard defined two different architectures to deliver Ethernet access: Active Ethernet and Ethernet passive optical network (EPON). The motivation for service providers to deploy Active Ethernet over other technologies such as EPON are:

1.Large dedicated bandwidth. Each customer has a dedicated 100 Mbit/s Ethernet connection to the network (could be upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet down the road by keeping the same fiber). This provides enough bandwidth to deliver all current triple-play services and more.

2.Simplicity. The installation of the fiber can be the same as in xPON, but there is no need for the 1xn optical splitter as the multiplexing of customer signals is done by an Ethernet switch located in a street cabinet. There is also simplicity in the power budget, distance and number of splits. As active Ethernet is point-to-point, there is no limitation on the ratio of distances from the CO to optical splitter or splitter to homes.

3. Quality of service (QoS).Since the bandwidth in active Ethernet is dedicated, service providers have full control over bandwidth distribution and can promise and deliver different QoS levels.