While cable operators are interested in serving the small-to-medium business (SMB) market and providing alternatives to legacy layer two services, fiber builds can be costly and impractical. Looking for ways to leverage their existing HFC infrastructure, they have begun deploying Ethernet over DOCSIS (EOD) as a replacement for T-1 or frame relay services. (For an overview of EOD’s business case, click here.)

Time Warner Cable Business Class announced last week that it has rolled out Business Class Ethernet, targeting SMBs and businesses not accessible by fiber networks. The first markets include New York City, five cities in upstate New York, two Wisconsin cities, and Portland, ME. Deployment is planned to be finished early next year.

"We have taken a look at one of (our) abundant assets, the DOCSIS-based or HFC-based access network and Ethernet-enabled it in order to be able to use this type of infrastructure to connect more customers," said Darren Wolner, Time Warner senior product manager. "As part of our Ethernet Everywhere strategy, Business Class is looking to extend Ethernet over the most practical means possible, which is not always fiber."

Wolner went on to say that recent research has shown only 13.4 percent of businesses have access to fiber in their buildings. "That is a limiting factor in the marketplace …. Introducing Ethernet as an option over DOCSIS or the HFC plant, (we have) extended that Ethernet market to an area where customers would not be able to get it before."

What EOD does is create a private network using tunneling technology as specified by the Internet Engineering Task Force’s Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, Version 3 (L2TPv3). (See here.) Time Warner is able to offer up to a 2 Mbps symmetrical service, which is 33 percent more than a copper-based T-1 line, Wolner said.
Spanning verticals Businesses have been "receptive" to Time Warner’s EOD offering. "What has been pleasing to us is that (by the) early indicators, no one particular vertical is sticking out. We have been getting orders to install service on a wide variety of verticals including financial (and) educational (institutions), municipalities, construction and even retail," Wolner said, adding that service can be turned up in a matter of days if coax is already in a building or in the vicinity.

Time Warner is offering service agreements for network availability and mean-time-to-repair and monitors its network 24/7.

The company also delivers fiber-based Ethernet services to enterprise customers and has received MEF-9 and MEF-14 certification from the Metro Ethernet Forum. (Click here for more on the work done by MEF.) For more about Time Warner’s construction of a Metro Ethernet LAN/WAN for the New York Law School, click here.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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