Broadwing to break out Gig Ethernet services

Broadwing will make a Gigabit Ethernet splash at NetWorld+Interop 2001 this week with the introduction of a managed service that supports speeds from 50M to 1G bit/sec and will likely cost a fraction of similar OC-3 and OC-12 services.

While the price of the service will be attractive, more important is the flexibility it will offer, says Nick Maynard, an analyst at Yankee Group.

Broadwing will provision a Gigabit Ethernet port for each customer site, but users will only pay for the average bandwidth used per month, even if they have traffic bursts up to 1G bit/sec, says Tony Tomae, Broadwing vice president of Internet and data services.

"The ability to provide additional bandwidth to suit customer needs is much more important than the lower prices that go along with Ethernet services," Maynard says. "If a user has to wait nine months for more bandwidth, it doesn't matter how cheap the circuits are, the service isn't worth it."

Although Broadwing would not reveal specific pricing, executives say users can expect "significant" cost savings. Businesses typically pay $65,000 to $70,000 per month for a national OC-3, 155M bit/sec connection from one of the big three carriers: AT&T, Sprint and WorldCom.

While not an apples-to-apples comparison, Gigabit Ethernet competitors such as Cogent are offering 100M bit/ sec dedicated links to the Internet for $1,000 per month. Broadwing's pricing is expected to land somewhere in between. And unlike private line OC services, Gigabit Ethernet services are not priced based on length of circuit.

Broadwing will support the service over its recently completed SONET-based national fiber-optic network that uses Corvis optical gear and Cienna dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) electroncs. The network consists of three meshed optical rings that span the U.S. and delivers three fiber connections to each switching point.

The Gigabit Ethernet service will be a fully managed offering that includes customer premises equipment -- most likely a Cisco router that supports LAN and Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Broadwing says it has deployed Gigabit Ethernet switches to support the service, but has not yet selected a single supplier and won't reveal the companies it is evaluating.

Although Broadwing has some local fiber, none of it is yet operational so the longdistance company has to partner with other companies to offer end-to-end services. "We are working with providers that have metropolitan networks and direct fiber into [office] buildings," Tomae says.

The company will announce a deal with at least one metropolitan Gigabit Ethernet service provider this week, he says. Although Broadwing wouldn't name the partner, companies that come to mind include Yipes Communications, Cogent and Telseon, all of which are supporting Gigabit Ethernet over optical metropolitan ring networks.

Yipes is offering Gigabit Ethernet services in 20 metropolitan areas and offers city-to-ciity connectivity through third-party carriers. Cogent is primarily offering Gigabit Ethernet Internet access services, and Telseon is primarily selling to other service providers.

While it's ideal to have direct Gigabit Ethernet over fiber to each location, Tomae says that won't be an option for users in some smaller cities or remote locations. In those cases, customers will have to connect to Broadwing's Gigabit Ethernet service using a standard OC-3, 155M bit/sec or OC-12 622M bit/sec connection. But these high-speed connections can be difficult to find even in high-traffic areas.

Last December Gensler & Associates, an architectural firm in San Francisco, ordered two T-3, 45M bit/sec lines from its local service provider and two similar circuits in New York. Gensler is still waiting.

Despite the wait, T-3 and OC-3 services are proven. Broadwing and other Gigabit Ethernet carriers still have to show customers that Gigabit Ethernet is a viable wide-area alternative, The Yankee Group's Maynard says. Price will only take them so far, but if the services cannot be restored as quickly as traditional WAN services, users aren't going to stick with them, he says.

Broadwing may be in a better position than its Gigabit Ethernet competitors because it is also offering users traditional services, such as private line, ATM and frame relay.

Broadwing says users can connect offices across the country, but the service is expected to first be available in a few select cities to beta- test customers and then generally available in the third quarter.

This story, "Broadwing to break out Gig Ethernet services" was originally published by Network World.

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