Ethernet services

EENY: Exchange Heat

NEW YORK -- Ethernet Expo Americas 2009 -- Ethernet services providers have been calling for it for years, and now the wait is over -- managed multi-carrier interconnection at common exchange points is now possible, with network-to-network interconnect specifications set to become available within the next few months.

Quick recap: Up to now, Ethernet service providers looking to go "off net" by connecting to partner network operators have had to arrange and set up interconnect agreements on a one-to-one basis, which takes a long time, costs a lot of money, and leads to multiple agreements that vary wildly.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), for example, has 125 partners for Ethernet service interconnect that, between them, have spawned about 200 separate certified service arrangements, Michael Volgende, the operator's director of Ethernet services, told the audience here during his keynote address Tuesday afternoon. To deal with all those arrangements, Verizon has created its own certification process.

Now, though, service providers can hook up to Ethernet exchanges that are similar to Internet peering points. The idea is that they connect once and become hooked up to multiple partners without having to organize individual interconnect deals -- one to many, rather than multiple one-to-one connections.

Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) unveiled its Ethernet exchange plans in October and this week revealed its first seven carrier partners, including AboveNet Inc. (NYSE: ABVT), Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), and Global Cloud Xchange . (See Carriers Join Equinix's Exchange and Equinix Offers Global Ethernet Peering .)

The prospect for Equinix to connect multiple operators to its exchange is clear, as the data center specialist already provides the physical location for 90 Ethernet service providers to make their existing one-to-one interconnections.

Carriers that Light Reading spoke to here in New York all agree that the introduction of such exchange facilities will make it easier, quicker, and cheaper for them to expand their footprint and offer Ethernet services on an international basis.

Equinix isn't the only player on the scene, though, as CENX Inc. emerged this week with its first U.S. exchange points. (See Ethernet Gets a CENX View.)

The fact that MEF president Nan Chen heads up CENX has caused something of a stir, as it's the MEF that's close to publishing the Ethernet network-to-network interface (NNI) standard specifications, which are now on course to be published in January. In addition, Chen also took the opportunity to introduce CENX to the Ethernet community as part of his MEF update presentation here at Ethernet Expo, a move that raised a few eyebrows amongst attendees. (See Supercomm: Ethernet Peering Gets Closer and Ethernet Exchange of Blows.)

What's clear, though, is that the capabilities being offered by CENX and Equinix is set to change the Ethernet services landscape, and further enhance the potential uptake for international, multi-site Ethernet connectivity.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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