Ethernet services

Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) are sitting pretty as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) ramps up its Metro Ethernet initiative and targets mid-sized businesses (those with 20 to 500 employees) more aggressively, Light Reading Cable has learned.

Industry sources say Juniper and Cisco have secured the bulk of the deployments in a phase during which Comcast has rolled out Metro Ethernet to more than 20 major U.S. markets, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (See Comcast Expands Metro Ethernet.)

It's believed that Comcast is divvying up the initial deployments between the two vendors, with Cisco getting markets such as the Twin Cities in Minnesota, Boston and Atlanta, while Juniper provides the tin for markets such as Indianapolis, Seattle and Houston.

The balanced market deployment awards should keep Cisco and Juniper honest, but Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) is also getting a minor piece of Comcast's initial wave of Metro Ethernet business, sources say. Comcast declined to comment on its vendor selections, but the MSO is expected to deploy the service to most of its markets by the end of 2011.

It's not yet known if Cisco and Juniper will also get the majority of the markets that are left, but both (among many others) are expected to compete as Comcast looks to move its legacy fiber business -- comprising Sonet and TDM technology -- to its new MetroE platform.

Monday's announcement marked Comcast's formal move up-market, and follows its initial focus on businesses with fewer than 20 employees that can be served by technologies such as Docsis.

Comcast's higher-bandwidth MetroE offering, which taps into its 147,000-mile fiber optic network, will look to find businesses eager to upgrade from T1, Frame Relay and ATM technologies. It's starting with four MetroE services: Ethernet Private Line (point-to-point); Ethernet Virtual Private Line (point-to-multipoint); Ethernet Network Service (multipoint-to-multipoint); and Ethernet Dedicated Internet Access.

Comcast is also letting customers tap into bandwidth pools of 1 Mbit/s to 10 Gbit/s that can be scaled in increments of 1 Mbit/s, 10 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s or 1 Gbit/s. It also claims to be the first carrier to score all three certifications from the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF 9, 14 and 18).

Comcast generated more than US$1 billion in business customer revenues last year, the first time it has exceeded that figure, with most of it originating from businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Based on the $394 million its business services unit pulled in during the first quarter, it's already on course to generate revenues of at least $1.6 billion in 2011. (See When Will Comcast's Move Up-Market Pay Off? and Cable's $5B Biz Services Bonanza .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

jkmilo 12/5/2012 | 5:05:13 PM
re: Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

Anybody knows if Comcast is going to use MPLS-TP in the core of the MEN? Juniper and Cisco both support it, Ciena not that much as far as I know.

torivar 12/5/2012 | 5:05:12 PM
re: Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

Neither Juniper or Cisco supports MPLS-TP on the platforms Comcast will use.  

Rush21120 12/5/2012 | 5:05:11 PM
re: Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

Anyone know which equipment Comcast will use?

crazy4geek 12/5/2012 | 5:05:10 PM
re: Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

MPLS-TP is a solid differentiator for Cisco (and Juniper) but someone above mentioned not a factor for Comcast - I haven't seen Comcast announce what platform they will be using, anyone know?

jkmilo 12/5/2012 | 5:05:08 PM
re: Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

I am just guessing the network will be based in MPLS, but maybe they use PBB or something else. Does the platform of Comcast support MPLS? MPLS-TP could be added later in a firmware update, as it extends MPLS (at least in JunOS, it would not be a problem)...

fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 5:05:07 PM
re: Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

MPLS at this point is turning into a brand name, almost like Ethernet itself, given that Carrier Ethernet has almost nothing to do with the original 1973-1985 Ethernet. Nice name though.

The original MPLS is a layer 3A technology, linked to IP, implemented in routers, deisgned to separate certain traffic flows within a network.  It's not a great carrier offering though it occasionally shows up that way.  And you can get to worry about where the -P and -PE roles are going.  MPLS-TP is described as a Layer 2 technology (that is, not linked to IP itself) and is more often implemented in the optics.  Plain old Carrier Ethernet (MEF-style) is also designed to go into the optical gear, and is much simpler to manage, though not intended to scale in one network to the size of an MPLS-TP cloud. 

Cisco's current CE flagship, CPT, can do -TP and straight CE.  I don't think they care about PBB; that's a competitor's flavor.  Didn't Ciena pick that up from Nortel?  I wonder which boxes Comcast is using though.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:05:02 PM
re: Juniper, Cisco Share Comcast's MetroE Spoils

I'll do some checking around to see what products Comcast happens to be using. JB

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