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Optical/IP

NTL Casts a Wide Ethernet

U.K. cable operator NTL Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI) is throwing down the gauntlet on Ethernet, launching a national virtual private LAN (VPLS) service that it says puts it ahead of competing intercity services (see NTL Launches National Ethernet).

Its national Ethernet service runs over an MPLS network with an IP core and offers multipoint connections in a highly competitive market that is still largely dealing in point-to-point services over legacy SDH and ATM infrastructures (see UK: Ethernet's Crowded House and Sonet/SDH Dominates Ethernet Services).

While VPLS technology is relatively new to the scene, NTL has found itself in a position to build a next-generation IP network out of necessity -- the company has been pieced together from 16 different franchises and acquisitions, and it needed to find a way of bringing them all together.

"The SDH architecture had come from a lot of different companies and wasn't a good starting point. It's a less scaleable and more expensive way of doing it," says Peter Ryde, director of wholesale services for NTL’s business division. The operator instead decided to build its Broadnet network from scratch, deploying access equipment from Laurel Networks Inc. to support customers while shifting services onto the IP network.

David Ellis, director of marketing and strategy for the business division, couldn't resist getting in a jab at BT Group plc's (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) 21CN network project, saying "What's different about NTL here is that the architecture gives us a fundamental capability that BT is now trying to build in... We've got a 21st Century network today."

But NTL isn't alone in extending its Ethernet service out of the metro-area market. Its announcement follows similar launches from Colt Telecom Group plc (Nasdaq: COLT; London: CTM.L) in November and rival cable operator Telewest Communications Networks plc (Nasdaq: TWSTY) just last month (see Colt Offers Ethernet VPNs and Telewest Launches UK Ethernet Services).

With little to differentiate basic point-to-point metro Ethernet, providers are increasingly looking to offer more advanced services, such as wide-area networking and multipoint connections across a national footprint. NTL says it can extend to 200 points of presence (POPs) across the U.K., compared with BT’s 124 and Telewest’s 53. That means it can get much closer to the customer’s location and compete on price.

“All of the cost issues are driven by how close you can get to the customer,” says Ryde. "Even if we can't offer the service directly, it's carried a shorter distance over BT's network, which also means performance on the network is much better." Ellis adds that NTL is aiming to offer the service at a price 30 to 40 percent lower than BT's.

The table below, generated from a directory of Ethernet services being developed by Light Reading, shows that while a number of operators offer multipoint services in the U.K., NTL is something of an early bird in offering a nationwide MPLS-based service. Some of the service providers shown are international operators carrying traffic in and out of London; others are U.K.-based companies offering service in a smaller number of locations.

Table 1: Multipoint Ethernet Services in the UK
Service Provider Service Name UK Coverage Principal technology used to provide service
AboveNet Inc. CWDM London CWDM
BT Group plc IP Clear Flex All cities Ethernet access to MPLS
BT Group plc IP Clear GigE All cities Ethernet access to MPLS
BT Group plc MegaStream Ethernet All cities ATM
BT Group plc WaveStream Services (optical) All cities DWDM
COLT Telecom Group plc LANLink Hub and Spoke London | Birmingham | Manchester SDH
COLT Telecom Group plc Switched Ethernet VPN London | Birmingham | Manchester RPR
COLT Telecom Group plc Switched Gigabit IP London | Birmingham | Manchester Ethernet
Easynet Ethernet Anywhere Basingstoke | Brighton | Bristol | Cambridge | Carlisle | Coventry | Edinburgh | Glasgow | Gloucester | Hayes | Leeds | Leicester | Liverpool | London | Manchester | Middlesbrough | Milton Keynes | Newbury | Newcastle | Nottingham | Reading | Sheffield | Slough | Stoke | Taunton | Warwick | Woking | Wolverhampton SDH
Exponential-e PowerConnect Abington | Alnwick | Aylesbury | Banbury | Basingstoke | Birmingham | Borehamwood | Bracknell | Brighton | Bristol | Cambridge | Carlisle | Chilworth | Coventry | Crawley | Croydon | Derby | Edinburgh | Fareham | Greenlaw | Guilford | Harlow | Kendal | Leamington Spa | Leeds | Leicester | Liverpool | Manchester | Middlesborough | Milton Keynes | Newbury | Newcastle | Northampton | Nottingham | Oxford | Preston | Reading | Sheffield | Slough | Southampton | Stoke on Trent | Swindon | Tunbridge Wells | Warrington | Westbury | Woking | Wolverhampton | York MPLS
Exponential-e PowerLink Abington | Alnwick | Aylesbury | Banbury | Basingstoke | Birmingham | Borehamwood | Bracknell | Brighton | Bristol | Cambridge | Carlisle | Chilworth | Coventry | Crawley | Croydon | Derby | Edinburgh | Fareham | Greenlaw | Guilford | Harlow | Kendal | Leamington Spa | Leeds | Leicester | Liverpool | Manchester | Middlesborough | Milton Keynes | Newbury | Newcastle | Northampton | Nottingham | Oxford | Preston | Reading | Sheffield | Slough | Southampton | Stoke on Trent | Swindon | Tunbridge Wells | Warrington | Westbury | Woking | Wolverhampton | York MPLS
Exponential-e PowerPeer Abington | Alnwick | Aylesbury | Banbury | Basingstoke | Birmingham | Borehamwood | Bracknell | Brighton | Bristol | Cambridge | Carlisle | Chilworth | Coventry | Crawley | Croydon | Derby | Edinburgh | Fareham | Greenlaw | Guilford | Harlow | Kendal | Leamington Spa | Leeds | Leicester | Liverpool | Manchester | Middlesborough | Milton Keynes | Newbury | Newcastle | Northampton | Nottingham | Oxford | Preston | Reading | Sheffield | Slough | Southampton | Stoke on Trent | Swindon | Tunbridge Wells | Warrington | Westbury | Woking | Wolverhampton | York MPLS
Exponential-e PowerStar Abington | Alnwick | Aylesbury | Banbury | Basingstoke | Birmingham | Borehamwood | Bracknell | Brighton | Bristol | Cambridge | Carlisle | Chilworth | Coventry | Crawley | Croydon | Derby | Edinburgh | Fareham | Greenlaw | Guilford | Harlow | Kendal | Leamington Spa | Leeds | Leicester | Liverpool | Manchester | Middlesborough | Milton Keynes | Newbury | Newcastle | Northampton | Nottingham | Oxford | Preston | Reading | Sheffield | Slough | Southampton | Stoke on Trent | Swindon | Tunbridge Wells | Warrington | Westbury | Woking | Wolverhampton | York MPLS
Exponential-e PowerVPN Abington | Alnwick | Aylesbury | Banbury | Basingstoke | Birmingham | Borehamwood | Bracknell | Brighton | Bristol | Cambridge | Carlisle | Chilworth | Coventry | Crawley | Croydon | Derby | Edinburgh | Fareham | Greenlaw | Guilford | Harlow | Kendal | Leamington Spa | Leeds | Leicester | Liverpool | Manchester | Middlesborough | Milton Keynes | Newbury | Newcastle | Northampton | Nottingham | Oxford | Preston | Reading | Sheffield | Slough | Southampton | Stoke on Trent | Swindon | Tunbridge Wells | Warrington | Westbury | Woking | Wolverhampton | York MPLS
Fibernet Ethersphere All cities RPR
hSo hSo Connect All cities SDH, ATM
InTechnology plc LANnet Banbury | Birmingham | Brighton | Bristol | Carlisle | Croydon | Edinburgh | Glasgow | Harrogate | Leeds | Leicester | London | Manchester | Middlesborough | Milton Keynes | Newcastle | Northampton | Nottingham | Preston | Reading | Sheffield | Slough | York MPLS, DWDM
Interoute Ethernet Private Line London MPLS
Level 3 Communications Inc. (3)Flex Ethernet All cities MPLS
MCI UK Private Line Ethernet All cities SDH
NTL National Ethernet All cities MPLS
PacketExchange Ltd. DireXion London MPLS
PacketExchange Ltd. ProXimity London MPLS
Sprint SprintLink Virtual LAN Service (VLS) All cities DWDM, Sonet
Stealth Communications Inc. TLS London WHRP
Telecomplete Ltd. Long Reach Ethernet All cities Ethernet
Telewest Business National Ethernet All cities MPLS
TeliaSonera International Carrier L2Connect London MPLS
THUS plc National Ethernet All cities MPLS, DWDM, SDH
Tyco Telecommunictions (US) Inc. Global Ethernet London Sonet
Your Communications LAN Speed (national) All cities SDH




The move towards VPLS in the U.K. mirrors a similar trend in the U.S. market, where Tier 2 carriers are getting in ahead of their larger competitors with similar advanced Ethernet services (see Tier 2 Carriers Eat Up Ethernet).

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

einstein 12/5/2012 | 3:23:59 AM
re: NTL Casts a Wide Ethernet So who's gear are they using to deploy VPLS? Laurel was mentioned as the Access, but Laurel does not support VPLS as yet. They seems to drift more into BRAS market.
jsboon 12/5/2012 | 3:23:53 AM
re: NTL Casts a Wide Ethernet Alcatel 7450's.
nole 12/5/2012 | 3:23:51 AM
re: NTL Casts a Wide Ethernet Does multipoint communication means that they support multicast?
einstein 12/5/2012 | 3:23:42 AM
re: NTL Casts a Wide Ethernet Peter,

Are you saying you have tested VPLS on Laurel and deployed it on live network?

Einstein
petergoodman 12/5/2012 | 3:23:42 AM
re: NTL Casts a Wide Ethernet ntl are using Laurel ST's. We have carried out proof of concept testing on the VPLS features that are supported in our live network.

...Peter Goodman
MPLS Product Manager
ntl Business
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