Ethernet Europe: Wholesale Booms, Visibility Lags

Ethernet wholesale providers are planning to deploy performance management tools as demand rises, but business and technology challenges remain

April 13, 2010

3 Min Read
Ethernet Europe: Wholesale Booms, Visibility Lags

LONDON –- Ethernet Europe -- Wholesale Ethernet providers and exchanges are braced for major growth, both from enterprises and mobile backhaul demand, but are still challenged to provide end-to-end visibility of Ethernet services for their carrier customers and their end-users, according to participants in a panel here today.

BT Wholesale , for example, is using Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) technology to offer network performance information for its mobile service provider customers, and will add similar capabilities for fixed service provider customers as part of its 10-Gigabit wholesale offering, but isn't doing so today for other Ethernet services, according to Steve Best, BT Wholesale's director of product management.

Virgin Media Business Ltd. plans to add end-to-end performance monitoring capabilities by the end of the year, based on the IEEE's 802.3ah standard, said Andy McEwan, head of Point-to-Point Product Management. That will enable active testing of circuits without having to wait for customers to report problems, he noted.

Sharing of network performance data is built into the service model of the CENX Inc. Carrier Ethernet exchange, said Eric Gillenwater, vice president of worldwide sales, but each service provider must choose how much of its network performance information it wants to share, and with which partners.

"The idea being that providers will be able to look and somewhat select and identify providers that meet those minimums that are in the market today," Gillenwater said.

It's been a business issue, agreed Jim Poole, general manager of Global Networks and Content for Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), since service providers aren't always eager to share network performance data with other service providers who, while being partners, are also competitors.

"We allow people to elect to share on a rules basis" with either select parties or all exchange participants, Poole said.

A number of industry trends are driving the wholesale Ethernet market, with wireless backhaul being one prime driver, but service diversity/resilience and data center expansion also are key factors.

BT has rolled out a series of resilience options, to include separate access networks, network elements, and Ethernet nodes within the network, said BT's Best, and he admitted some surprise at the volume of the uptake.

"The takeup has been quite impressive," Best said. "I've been surprised in the speed and percentage of customers taking that up. We are working flat-out to get a 10-Gig interface out there, and it should be soon."

Virgin Media is also seeing resilience demand in the UK and is delivering that via Docsis 3 deployments over its cable network, which provide diverse routing from DSL lines, McEwan said.

KDDI Corp. is seeing wholesale Ethernet expand in conjunction with its data center expansion, said Stuart Warren, marketing and project planner for KDDI Europe.

"Expansion of Ethernet has been greatly helped by demand for collocation services through our data centers," he said. As a result, KDDI has opened new data centers in the Docklands area of London and in South Africa, and will be opening a new data center in Vietnam later this month.

Ethernet is proving popular with customers who want to see a set roadmap for bandwidth expansion, Virgin's McEwan said. "We see customers demanding access accountability -- they want to see the roadmap that gets them from 10 Mbit/s up to 1 Gbit/s, and know we can implement and grow that. And they want to see simple pricing structures."

Poole warned service providers at Ethernet Expo that they need to be prepared to meet growing demand, which his exchange is seeing.

"When we opened our Ethernet exchange in New York, it took us 12 months to fill that facility, and I can tell you the service providers that did the most business were with us from day one," Poole said. "A global buyer engages global vendors, and they expect to buy when they need you, not three months later."

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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