The seven are the first carriers to receive the MEF's service certificates:
- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)
- BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS)
- Optimum Lightpath , part of Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)
- MetNet Communications Inc.
- ntl group ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI)
- Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q)
- Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), in the form of its Verizon Enterprise Solutions unit (formerly MCI and Verizon's enterprise business)
The process follows on from the vendor equipment certification process that began late last year. (See MEF Rubber Stamps Ethernet Gear and MEF: Certification Wasn't Easy.)
So how did these carriers -- all MEF members, of course -- make the grade? Each had to build a service infrastructure in its lab for initial verification of compliance against MEF specifications, and then undergo a field test of production circuits set up on its live production network, says Bob Mandeville, president of test lab Iometrix Inc. , which conducted the verification process.
Mandeville says his company had to develop network probes to add to the carriers' networks that could monitor the EPL (Ethernet private line), EVPL (Ethernet virtual private line), and E-LAN (Ethernet multipoint-to-multipoint) circuits that were tested.
So did anyone fail? Mandeville says all seven carriers had issues along the way that needed to be addressed and worked on to meet the MEF specifications, but that all the carriers in the first phase of testing passed eventually. Now Mandeville and his team are starting work on the next 10 unidentified carriers keen to get their certificates.
While the MEF won't name them, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Colt Technology Services Group Ltd , and Orange (NYSE: FTE) are believed to be among those involved.
But do these certificates count for anything when it comes to selling Ethernet services to enterprises? The carriers say a resounding "Yes!" Brian Fabiano, senior VP for network services at Optimum Lightpath, believes the certificate gives his company credibility. "Our customers are technically sophisticated and they know the MEF," he says. "They've been asking how we can show that our services are resilient, and this is a milestone in achieving that."
Anthony I'Anson, strategy director at NTL:Telewest Business -- the new name for NTL's wholesale business unit following its recent merger -- concurs. "The MEF is widely recognized by enterprises. That was a driver for us being part of this process," says I'Anson.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading