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COLT CTO: Let's Connect Now!

LONDON -- Light Reading's Ethernet Expo: Europe 2007 -- Alireza Mahmoodshahi, CTO of Colt Technology Services Group Ltd , says now's the time for global operators to figure out how to interconnect to one another using Ethernet technology, putting behind them a history of failure in operator interconnection attempts.

"Not having interconnection is not an option," said Mahmoodshahi here in today's keynote at Light Reading's Ethernet Expo: Europe 2007. "If you all believe Ethernet is the right transport layer for us, then let's do it."

The Colt CTO, whose pan-European operations cover business-to-business networks in 14 countries, pointed out that carrier interconnection has a history of failure and frustration.

"I remember back in the early 1990s we were trying to do Frame Relay interconnect NNI [network-to-network interface]," he said. "We had so many discussions. Nothing materialized. We never reached an agreement. Not to the level to make us all successful. So we all failed. We failed to bring the economic sense. The second one was ATM. We did not that make successful. The technology was complex, and it's still here, but we were not able to make the interconnect work. Now we have an opportunity, and it's Ethernet -- let's make this one work."

Mahmoodshahi pointed out that it's not as easy as a technical standard, which is something the MEF has been working on. (See Ethernet Mulls Interface Standard.)

Getting more Ethernet interoperability will require operators to define the set of principles by which they make interconnection agreements. As Mahmoodshahi pointed out, sometimes business motives and monetary terms, not technical ones, are more important.

"It's not in technology -- technology is the easy part. It's how we, among ourselves, set principles."

Of course, the details of exactly how this will get done are still murky.

The first step hinted at by Mahmoodshahi would be for the industry to come up with a standard model of exchanging traffic, as now happens in the Internet market with Internet peering, and in the mobile market with mobile termination.

"You have to adopt the standards and start using them. We need to have policies and rules... What are the policies?"

Other carrier representatives agreed.

"Regarding the MEF standards and regulations, we've found in putting together Ethernet NNIs, agreeing on commercials terms, policies, and procedures are more critical than technical standards," said Keao Caindec, vice president of marketing with Yipes Enterprise Services Inc.

"Ethernet interconnects are critical to the growth of global Ethernet services," said Caindec.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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