CENX, Equinix and Neutral Tandem all now have ethernet
services in London
Since the world’s first carrier ethernet exchange
started operations earlier this year, the first signs of
competition have arisen in this new market.
The first off the mark was CENX, set up by Nan Chen, president
of the Metro Ethernet Forum, with the advice of Bob Metcalfe,
the person who invented the concept of ethernet back in 1973.
But in the few short months since CENX — pronounced
"see-nix" — started up, two rivals, Equinix and
Neutral Tandem, have also started offering ethernet exchange
The logic is the same. Carriers are starting to see the logic
of extending ethernet technology from the office — for
which is was invented by Metcalfe and his colleagues 37 years
ago — into the metropolitan area and then out into
national and international networks.
"Ethernet is generally cheaper, more cost effective in
equipment terms and cheaper in cost per bit transmitted," says
Sandy Brown, CEO of CENX, speaking to Global Telecoms Business
a few months ago. "And it has better scaling." You can go from
10 megabits a second to one gigabit a second "with typically no
hardware changes", he says.
Since then CENX has been setting up alliances with a number of
operators from around the world. Verizon was one of the first
— indeed, Verizon and CENX won an innovation award
from Global Telecoms Business for their project in June 2010.
Other partners to declare themselves early include Interxion,
which provides co-location data centre services in Europe, RCN
Metro Optical Networks, a US carrier, Optimum Lightpath
— a metropolitan New York carrier — as well
as Level 3, XO and others.
In November Colt, a European business carrier, said that it now
offers high-quality carrier ethernet services via
CENX’s exchanges in London and New York.
Lutz Blank, Colt’s director of wholesale
marketing, commented: "With many operators and end-customers
having migrated to ethernet services, these new connections
with CENX open up a significant new level of connectivity for
our business. They bring seamless interconnection with
Colt’s information delivery platform from and to
The London base for CENX was itself new, and Chen welcomed
Colt’s move to connect. "With our CENX market,
members can instantly confirm service availability at the vast
number of locations served by Colt across its extensive
European network. Once connected, CENX’s service
integration, translation and monitoring provide a seamless
on-net experience for its members and their end-users."
At about the same time, US carrier AboveNet, which also has a
connection across the Atlantic to London, also announced a link
to CENX — and to a rival service, Equinix —
for its new Ethernet eXchange Hub service. The new service will
be available first to customers operating in select CENX and
Equinix carrier ethernet exchanges.
The eXchange Hub service acts as the hub or central
connectivity port and carrier customers can then use
AboveNet’s network for ethernet connectivity to
enterprise locations, carrier hotels and data centres.
Ethernet services are available at bandwidth levels from 100
megabits a second to 5 gigabits a second, said AboveNet.
Equinix’s general manager of global networks,
mobility and content, Jim Poole, welcomed the move, saying that
it helped to expand service availability.
Equinix, set up to run an internet business exchange, in the
late 1990s and a survivor of the dotcom crash a few years
later, expanded its own ethernet exchange business in October
2010. It now operates in 10 markets — Amsterdam,
Chicago, Frankfurt, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris,
Silicon Valley, Tokyo and Washington — and plans to
add 10 before the end of June 2011: five US locations plus Hong
Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto and Zurich.
Equinix says it has 38 customers for its carrier ethernet
exchange, including Pacnet in Europe and 2Connect from Bahrain.
Chris van Zinnicq Bergmann, managing director of Pacnet Europe,
said: "There is a significant opportunity to extend
Pacnet’s reach through local providers, allowing
us to deliver more scalable, flexible and cost effective
Buyers and sellers
Rick Hillson, managing director of 2Connect’s
European office, also welcomed the move: "Connecting to
Equinix’s carrier ethernet exchanges provides
2Connect access to a wide variety of buyers and sellers of
ethernet services as well as extending our reach into new
Another carrier ethernet company, Neutral Tandem, has also been
announcing a series of relationships with global carriers.
Until now, says the Chicago-based company, ethernet service
providers have engaged in complex, one-off interconnects with a
number of different carriers in an effort to provide seamless
service to their customers. Neutral Tandem’s
ethernet exchange aims to be a connecting point for ethernet
providers, by enabling them to interconnect with one another in
a more efficient, simplified manner to accelerate revenue.
In early November the company announced that a broadband
company, Business Only Broadband, with services in the New York
and New Jersey area plus Chicago, was to be the first wireless
operator to connect.
Alan Rosenberg, CEO of BOB, commented: "We are uniquely
positioned to offer extended reach, quick installation, and
network diversity for customers that have immediate and mission
critical networking needs. The ethernet exchange allows us to
better serve our customers while giving the other exchange
participants the opportunity to take full advantage of our
flexibility, network diversity and speed to market."
Ethernet service providers can virtually connect to many
different access providers in several markets through a single
connection to the Neutral Tandem ethernet exchange, said
Neutral Tandem’s president and COO, Surendra
Saboo. "Since we’re also a customer of BOB, we
have experienced the value of their solution first hand."
The company has taken a step further, by agreeing in September
to buy Tinet, the former wholesale arm of European operator
Tiscali, from the private equity companies that owned it, for
Tinet already had a global ethernet network, and this is being
integrated into Neutral Tandem’s networks, so that
the integrated networks can carry voice, video and data traffic
worldwide, while operating as what the new owner calls the
largest ethernet exchange in the world.
"This represents the first major milestone tied to our
integration efforts with Tinet," said Saboo, adding that the
deal "significantly enhances the value proposition of our
global ethernet exchange service offering".
He noted that Neutral Tandem plans to link its 14 sites in the
US with Tinet’s 99 ethernet-enabled points of
presence. "Neutral Tandem now offers the most accessible and
robust ethernet exchange in the world with over 100 locations
spread across three continents," said Saboo.
The deal means that, with one connection to its ethernet
exchange, customers can buy and sell to every other member
connected to any of its exchange points of presence, whether in
San Francisco, Singapore or any of its other locations across
Paolo Gambini, head of sales and marketing at Tinet, who stays
with the merged company, said: "Tinet has been selling ethernet
connectivity in the wholesale market since its inception, and
its backbone currently carries about 100 gigabits a second of
point-to-point and point-to-multi-point ethernet traffic on
behalf of over 100 customers."
CENX also says it plans expansion plans. It started with hubs
in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and after London has
places such as Hong Kong and Miami on its list. The company
plans to grow to 20 locations by the end of 2011, Brown told
Global Telecoms Business recently. "We are driven by our
CENX is aiming at "the major European telecoms areas and the
Asia Pacific region", he said.
CENX and Verizon have worked closely with several large service
providers to create what is aimed to be a scalable growth plan
for carrier ethernet.
Brown is one of those who believes that ethernet is the way
forward for most operators worldwide. He expects 80-85% of new
circuits to be ethernet end-to-end in the next five years.
The different between CENX and the others is that it is carrier
neutral, not providing telecoms services itself but simply a
carrier-neutral interchange hub. CENX does not provide its own
long-distance services, Brown told GTB recently: it does not
compete with the companies that connect to it.
Analysts expect the carrier ethernet market to grow rapidly:
some suggest it will be worth $40 billion in three years. If
that’s true, the business for ethernet exchanges,
whether carrier-neutral like CENX or allied to a carrier like
Neutral Tandem, stands to be huge. GTB