Cable Tech

Telseon's Mixed Metro Message

[Editor's Note: After further research, this story was rewritten on 9/28 to include more details and analysis of Telseon's Sonet and Ethernet services] Telseon Inc. has unveiled a service it claims gives Sonet customers some of the speed and flexibility of Ethernet. Unfortunately, it might just encourage some customers to move to Ethernet.

According to the press release, the new service, dubbed OC12 Bandwidth Mobility, gives metro customers using Telseon's wavelength service the ability to shift "wavelength connections between any two Telseon network locations within a metro."

Trouble is, shifting those endpoint connections will take between 30 to 45 days, whether customers move the endpoints within one metro area or city, or choose to move an endpoint to another city that offers Telseon's wavelength service. The carrier says that an upgrade from OC12 to OC48 in their network will be made within seven days (see Telseon Introduces Bandwidth Service).

Customers will pay a premium for the service, which starts at around $7,000 per month, but drops significantly with volume purchases.

Telseon is introducing its Bandwidth Mobility service to OC12 (622 Mbit/s) customers first. Those looking for Bandwidth Mobility for upgrading OC48 (2.488 Gbit/s) to OC192 (10 Gbit/s) connections need to wait until its official rollout in October, Telseon says.

Given the timeframe to get services installed, what's to keep new customers with lower bandwidth requirements, such as OC12, from simply moving to Ethernet service? After all, Telseon offers that too, via gear from Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN) and Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), among others. (The carrier's wavelength services are based on gear from ONI Systems Inc. -- Nasdaq: ONIS.)

Telseon says it's aiming Bandwidth Mobility at existing Sonet customers, who have already made a heavy investment that they don't want to back down from.

Still, whether it intends to or not, Telseon may have caught itself up in its own marketing. By attempting to compare its metro wavelength service to Ethernet, Telseon is calling attention to the two distinct sets of customers in the metro market -- carriers and large enterprises that opt for wavelength services as a replacement for Sonet leased lines, and smaller enterprises that want Ethernet services as an alternative to ATM or frame relay.

Telseon says it's not trying to test the market at all and that existing Sonet customers will embrace the guarantees it offers. Telseon maintains that it's the only carrier in the business who is willing to give guarantees for Sonet service delivery. If it doesn't meet its service promise, Telseon says, it will refund its customer a month of service.

Over a month to switch a Sonet connection isn't all that unusual an estimate, though, guarantee or no. "Switching a wavelength in a metro area depends on a lot of factors, but we'll typically set up service links within 30 to 45 days," says Jeff LeSourd, product manager for wavelength services at XO Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: XOXO). Like Telseon, XO Communications offers a series of wavelength and Ethernet services for metro customers.

In fairness, Telseon seems to be alone amongst its competitors in being willing to acknowledge the metro dichotomy. XO Communications denies there's any overlap. "Ethernet and Sonet are different markets. We don't see any overlapping customers," says LeSourd of XO. He says there's usually a clear choice made between one and the other, even at the low end.

But others appear to be looking at ways to make the two types of services jibe. Another Telseon competitor, Yipes Communications Inc., also sees the need to serve two metro masters. It is quietly in the process of adding wavelength services to its roster, which presently comprises several flavors of metro Ethernet, based on equipment from Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), and Riverstone.

While Yipes isn't talking about its plans openly, it recently integrated its Extreme switches with DWDM gear from LuxN Inc. (see Yipes Integrates Extreme, LuxN Gear). And shortly before that, LuxN made its own announcements about a move into the metro market (see LuxN Goes Metro).

"Obviously, we wouldn't have done this without a reason," says Ron Young, Yipes' cofounder and chief marketing officer. He hints that beta trials are already underway for metro wave services based on the newly integrated gear.

Young sees wave services as a necessary adjunct to metro Ethernet for capacity reasons. "They address different volumes," he says.

One thing is certain: Market distinctions are apt to blur even more as wavelength services get faster and more efficient, and Ethernet climbs to 10-Gbit/s.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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