Its Time to Take a Close Look at Business Ethernet Services - InformationWeek

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8/23/2007
07:53 AM
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Its Time to Take a Close Look at Business Ethernet Services

Tired of the companys LAN and WAN acting like spoiled fraternal twins, who simply cant get along with each other? WAN Ethernet services offer medium and small companies a chance to streamline their management tasks by providing a consistent network transport from users desktop though the WAN. After a slow ramp up, these services are now taking root and offer companies a range of speeds from 10M bps to 1G and a variety of wiring options. As a

Tired of the companys LAN and WAN acting like spoiled fraternal twins, who simply cant get along with each other? WAN Ethernet services offer medium and small companies a chance to streamline their management tasks by providing a consistent network transport from users desktop though the WAN. After a slow ramp up, these services are now taking root and offer companies a range of speeds from 10M bps to 1G and a variety of wiring options. As a result, businesses should look to them to support their WAN bandwidth requirements.The WAN Ethernet market segment was caught up in the dotcom boom and bust that occurred at the turn of the century. Like just about every other segment of the telecom market, initial expectations were over-hyped, and many of the early market entrants tanked. In the past few years, carriers have been building out their network infrastructure; laying more fiber and extending the reach of their networks, so they are better able to support these services. As a result, customers no longer have to manage separate IP and a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and can use IP from the start to the end of a connection.

In a recent report, market research firm Vertical Systems Group found that competition in this market segment has intensified. AT&T, Verizon Business and Time Warner Telecom have emerged as the top three U.S. retail Business Ethernet Services providers but none has garnered 20% market share, so this market is wide open. Because of that, many of these suppliers are now cutting prices in order to attract new customers.

Yet, these vendors face a few challenges in expanding their market. First, many enterprises are not aware of these services. Second, the carriers have been a bit reticent in outlining their pricing, so customers have difficulty determining how these offerings compare to PSTN options, such as T1 lines. These problems are expected to change as the market matures, so it may be time for medium and small businesses to take a close look at Ethernet as their WAN transport.

How much do you know about WAN Ethernet services? Do your local carriers offer them? What do you see as their advantage and disadvantages?

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