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Optical/IP

Is MPLS Trustworthy?

LONDON -- MPLS-based services are too sensitive to trust to another carrier's control, according to a senior executive at European broadband service provider Easynet Ltd. (London: ESY).

Addressing a London conference for "Global IP Carriers" Tuesday, the company's director of business development, Justin Fielder, told assembled telecom executives: "In the same way that we wouldn't trust BT to run a DSLAM [Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer] properly, I wouldn't want to offer MPLS-based services over a network that someone else was running. It's all about the ability to trust. Unless you run the infrastructure you can't control it."

Fielder also believes that control is key to being able to deliver on service-level agreements.

Easynet does know what it's like to deal with British Telecommunications plc (BT) (NYSE: BTY; London: BTA): It uses the U.K. incumbent carrier's local exchange facilities to host equipment for deployment of DSL services, and it uses BT's copper to connect to its customers.

Fielder added that the great strength of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is not as a network technology ("There are better," he says) but in the range of services it allows Easynet to offer in the eight European countries in which it operates. "MPLS has changed the way we can deploy virtual private networks; it gives us greater flexibility." But more traditional services are still more popular, he added. "We sell a lot more SDH and dark fiber than we do MPLS services."

The flexibility issue was echoed by fellow presenter Peter Boland, executive vice president of network planning and engineering at subsea network operator FLAG Telecom Group Ltd. (OTC: FLHLQ), which came out of Chapter 11 protection last year (see FLAG Emerges From Chap. 11). It is upgrading its network to offer a greater variety of carriers' carrier services: "Everyone wants to go into IP services because that's where the money is." said Boland.

But Fielder warned against the wholesale operators keeping capacity prices artificially low and simply doing business with each other. "If prices seem too good to be true then that's probably because they are. Carriers can't just buy services from each other, because they'll all go out of business." The bottom line, he said, is that carriers need to find a new market for these services at prices that allow operators to make money.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor, Boardwatch

Want a deeper understanding of MPLS? Check out the first module of Light Reading University's course on the topic. Click on this link to check it out for free!

cynergy 12/5/2012 | 12:16:14 AM
re: Is MPLS Trustworthy? Can anyone point out solid business case arguments
for service providers moving their current customers away from L2 networks to IP?

Of course you see this message "everyone wants to
move to IP" everywhere, but very little cost
breakdown for doing so - anyone have sources of information for this type of information? Either
sound business/cost justifications for cost savings
on IP versus other L2 networks or additional service revenues that have sound business cases?

Thanks,

Josh
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