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Leading Lights Finalists 2014: Most Innovative Ethernet/Optical Service

Dan O'Shea

This year's entries in the Leading Lights award category of Most Innovative Ethernet/Optical Service came from far and wide geographically-speaking, and also from across the landscape of different service provider types. Our list of five finalists for the award stays true to that breadth of interest.

Not only do we have a major US telco on the list of finalists, which many of you might expect, but also service providers from Europe and Australia. In addition, for the first time in the history of this particular category (a two-year history, but still…), a cable TV operator has made the finals. That's something we probably can expect to see more often from now on, with the MSOs making their presence felt in the business services market.

Other than that, both our list of finalists and our much longer overall list of entries for this award addressed many of the most top-of-mind issues in the sector today, including the intersection of Ethernet and SDN, the move to support advanced Ethernet standards, and the transition from legacy optical and Ethernet technologies to more innovative solutions.

So, here are the finalists:

Colt -- Colt Modular Multi-Service Platform (Colt LANLink)
This offering, which involves virtual CPE capabilities for Internet access and IP-VPN services, was launched last fall, and is now available in 11 European cities. Colt Technology Services Group Ltd (London: COLT) hopes to get it into 21 more cities this year.

The service is chiefly notable in that it uses SDN concepts, such as support for orchestration in a multi-vendor environment from a single controller, leading Colt toward capex and opex savings by allowing it to use best-of-breed vendors for each network element. At the time Colt was testing it with vendor partners Cyan Inc. and Accedian , leading up to its launch, SDN had not been much used by service providers outside the data center in support of Ethernet services. Colt's offering also allows the router to be removed from the customer premises by virtualizing it at the network edge, enabling the virtual CPE aspect of the service.

Telstra -- Carrier Ethernet 2.0 Services
Market adoption for the CE 2.0 set of specifications from the MEF has been building gradually over the last two years. Though more than two dozen service providers around the world now have at least one Ethernet service certified under CE 2.0, Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) was the first Asia-Pacific region operator to earn the CE 2.0 stamp when it did so in early 2013. Currently, Telstra also has more CE 2.0 Certified Professionals than any other operator in that region.

The carrier used CE 2.0-certified access, aggregation, and management gear from MRV Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: MRVC) to support its CE 2.0 services, which are now available in more than 1,700 metro and regional service exchange areas in Australia.

Time Warner Cable Business Class -- Carrier E-Access
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has been the most aggressive provider among what is currently the most aggressive group of providers in the Ethernet services business. Its Carrier E-Access service, now available in 31 markets, was not the first E-Access service overall when it debuted in January 2014, however, TWC may be the leading example of a cable TV operator as a wholesale Ethernet provider. (Interestingly, tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC), once affiliated with TWC, actually won the award in this category in 2013 for what was then the very first E-Access service.)

With TWC's E-Access, it has committed to a "carriers' carrier" business model, and that mean proving network reliability that can protect the brand reputation of its customers, as well as its own. TWC does this in part by managing network capacity at 40% to provide its carrier customers with automatic failover capability. That means premium Class of Service designations are not required to achieve guaranteed quality of service.

tw telecom -– eLynk
tw telecom, as noted above, won this category last year, but has landed again among the finalists with a cloud and data center connection service that addresses come of the key challenges enterprise users face today in connecting to different cloud and application providers.

The service creates private network data connections between users and a cloud service such as Amazon Web Services Inc. , a connection tw telecom doesn't mind making at all because, unlike many service providers, it doesn't own its own data center or provide its own private cloud services. The eLynk offering is made up of virtual connections from any tw telecom connected location into an eLynk interface. eLynk elements are pre-defined according to the ultimate application provider's specifications, and are certified, tested, and optimized, enabling a seamless, simple, and repeatable interconnection.The application provider benefits because it doesn't have to own a private data connection or interconnection in the data center.

Verizon -- Ethernet Private Line 1G/10G Native Ethernet Aggregation Port (Ethernet over Sonet)
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has pressed from the TDM era into the Ethernet era, while still leveraging the reliability of legacy Sonet technology. This multiplexing solution uses a Reconfigurable Optical Add-Drop Multiplexer/Packet Optical Transport platform to map Ethernet Private Line bandwidths (10 Mbit/s, 50 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s, 150 Mbit/s, 300 Mbit/s, 450 Mbit/s, 600 Mbit/s, 1000 Mbit/s), into a native unprotected or protected link aggregation configuration, along with an active standby link for failover.

The solution meets IEEE 802.1Q VLAN standards for service provider and customer designated Ethernet virtual connections designed for point-to-multipoint configurations, while maintaining private line Ethernet over SONET (EoS) technical attributes, including support for Ethernet frame transmission support up to 9600 bytes. Verizon began working with EoS in 2011, but this particular service was tested over the course of two years before its December 2013 market launch.

We'll name the winner for Most Innovative Ethernet/Optical Service at our Leading Lights awards dinner in Chicago on Tuesday, June 17, concluding the first day of Light Reading's Big Telecom Event. Hope to see you at the dinner and at the show.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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