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MAE
Metropolitan Area Exchange and/or Ethernet - A Network Access Point (NAP) where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can connect with each other. The original MAE was set up by a company called MFS (a subsidiary of WorldComm) and is based in Washington, D.C. Later, MFS built another one in Silicon Valley, dubbed MAE-West. In addition to the MAEs from MFS, there are many other NAPs. Although MAE refers really only to the NAPs from MFS, the two terms are often used interchangeably. As it so happens to work out, the two meanings (both Exchange and Ethernet are correct), there is however on going debate as to which is more appropriate. MAE West actually consists of two networks: an ATM network that can switch a   billion bits per second, and an FDDI ring that's limited to 100 Mbits per second. Companies connect to these networks by Ethernet, FDDI, or ATM over OC3. Today the MAEs are nowhere near being overwhelmed by Internet traffic. But don't take my word for it. Every night, MFS posts a graph on its Web site that shows the total amount of traffic the MAEs passed in the last five days. The day I visited, the MAE West gigaswitch was zipping along at a perky 240 Mbits per second, and the FDDI ring was packing 40 Mbits per second. That's nowhere near capacity. MFS now has MAEs in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles, with Paris, Frankfurt, and New York coming up soon. Regional Internet exchanges are a good idea, and sooner or later every city will probably have its own.
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