Ethernet exchanges a pain in the backend: C&WW

December 5th, 2011 by · Leave a Comment

This article was authored by John Tanner, and was originally posted on

This time last year, Ethernet exchanges were a fresh topic at Carrier Ethernet World Asia, promising easy interconnection of Ethernet services between service providers. One year later, at least one major carrier – Cable & Wireless Worldwide – is not impressed.

Alex Conner’s, head of international product management at C&WW, expressed disdain for the Ethernet exchange concept, at least on a practical engineering basis.
“Ethernet exchanges are a nice idea, but they haven’t been delivering the value expected,” he said during a keynote presentation at last week’s Carrier Ethernet World Congress Asia event.

Conner’s argued that for carriers, the exchange model only works as well as the ability of your backend team to deal with it.

“Just because you can interconnect into an exchange doesn’t mean the engineers on the backend will accept that,” he said. “Operator integration technology integration and commercial dialogue all still have to happen in the backend to make that service work.” In other words, stuff carriers do anyway when they interconnect Ethernet services bilaterally.

Other carriers weren’t quite as tough on the Ethernet exchange model. John Garrett, VP of product strategy and management for carrier services at Pacnet – which is a customer of Equinix’s Ethernet exchange service – said during a panel session Q&A that one big challenge of using such exchanges is doing so in regions where you’ve already got a local partner – especially when local access is your biggest pain point.

Ted Teoh, deputy GM for Hutchison Global Communications, said on the same panel HGC was looking at Ethernet exchanges, but so far is sticking to arranging E-NNIs directly with partners where its network operates.

Meanwhile, also on the same panel, Marc Teichtahl, director of IPNGN Asia-Pacific, Japan and China for Cisco Systems, commented that a lack of commercial arrangements makes exchanges a difficult proposition for carriers, and suggested that carriers might try rehashing old business models to make it work.

“Something like voice arbitrage, for example – that could be modified for something like this to ease the complexity,” he said.

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