SONET possesses several characteristics that make it appealing on the Internet today:
- SONET defines clear interoperability standards between different vendors' products
- SONET can carry nearly any higher-level protocol (including IP), and
- SONET includes built-in support for ease of management and maintenance.
Generally speaking, SONET performs at very high speeds. At the base signalling level called "STS-1," SONET supports 51.84 Mbps. The next level of SONET signalling, STS-3, supports triple the bandwidth, or 155.52 Mbps. Higher levels of SONET signalling increase the bandwidth in successive multiples of four, up to approximately 40 Gbps!
The speed and cost of SONET make the technology competitive with alternatives like ATM and Gigabit Ethernet.