Ben Maddison, Director of innovative terrestrial wholesale Network Service Provider Workonline Communications, recently became the first person in the history of the MEF-Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (CECP) examination to achieve a 100% score. The MEF-CECP examination is a comprehensive examination covering 10 subjects related to Carrier Ethernet and the work of the MEF.

Maddison is the first of over 3500 MEF-CECPs worldwide to achieve a perfect score.

Craig Easley, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Carrier Ethernet Academy (CEA), explains that the examination calls for candidates to demonstrate expertise across a broad number of topics. “The topics range from the high level MEF Carrier Ethernet service definitions (such as E-Line, E-LAN and E-Tree) to details on how these services are implemented on MEF-defined interfaces (such as the UNI and ENNI).”

“The certification establishes a baseline understanding of Carrier Ethernet among the professionals within the telecommunications industry, and creates a common language, which ensures that all professionals use the consistent terminology, based on the precisely defined concepts from the MEF’s technical specifications,” states Easley.

This common language eliminates communication errors and mis-aligned expectations that arise when parties misuse technical jargon or rely on loosely defined terms when expressing their capabilities and requirements.

“Essentially,” says Maddison, “it makes it easier for professionals to work together.” He adds that with an increasing number of foreign carriers looking to Africa as a new growth market, this becomes particularly important. “When working with other professionals across borders and language barriers, it becomes vital to establish clarity in terms of the language used. This assists with removing barriers and making it easier for these carriers to do business with African and South African providers.”

“Carrier Ethernet represents a revolutionary shift in the telecommunications industry. As networks continue to evolve from carrying primarily voice communications to data communications, the new high-capacity, fibre-based Carrier Ethernet networks have quickly become the mainstay of telecommunications services supporting modern digital communication,” explains Easley. “While Ethernet, the underlying basis of this technology, is over 40 years old, Carrier Ethernet has only been deployed within the past decade. With any new technology, there is always a steep learning curve for those responsible for designing, building, and supporting these networks; and the Carrier Ethernet training required to successfully pass the MEF-CECP exam accelerates this learning process. This is particularly relevant in Africa, where the telecommunications service providers are deploying new Carrier Ethernet services over existing and new network infrastructures.”

He notes that South Africa has recognised the value that trained experts can derive from the efficient deployment of these networks, adding that the number of MEF-CECPs in South Africa has grown exponentially over the past two years, as the number of service providers entering the Carrier Ethernet market continues to grow.

“South Africa is well positioned to become a leader in Carrier Ethernet over the next few years, with a workforce of Carrier Ethernet-certified professionals to assist in supporting the rapid expansion of these next-generation telecommunications services,” he says, noting that professionals like Maddison are proof of this.

“Ben’s perfect score exceeded the scores of even the most senior members of the MEF’s technical committee – engineers who have been working with Carrier Ethernet technology and personally helping to define and shape the standards.”

Maddison notes that Workonline Communications has recently become the first South African network operator to join the MEF’s Services Interconnect (SI) Program, which is designed to address the needs of specialised wholesale Ethernet service providers.

“The MEF-CECP examination is a small part of our broader plan to become more involved with the MEF in South Africa. We will send more of our team to complete the examination in coming months,” says Maddison.

Further to this, CEA recently opened a training centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is increasing the frequency of its training classes. With a growing body of expert instructors, the CEA aims to become the preferred training provider for Carrier Ethernet and telecommunications training in South Africa.