There’s business and then there’s Big Business.

While cable operators in United States are starting to take a big bite out of the $110 billion to $120 billion business services sector, there are other operators, such as Verizon, who play on a global scale. Verizon Business is a unit of Verizon Communications that provides business service solutions to large business and government customers both in the United States and abroad.

While cable operators such as Cox, Comcast and Cablevision‘s Optimum Lightpath have joined the Metro Ethernet Forum to further their business services platform, Verizon Business won the Metro Ethernet Forum’s U.S. Ethernet Service Provider of the Year – Best in Business award for carrier Ethernet services last year.

On the global scale, Verizon Business competes with AT&T, British Telecom, Orange, and, to a lesser extent, Cable & Wireless. Currently, Verizon Business offers the following portfolio of Ethernet services:

• Ethernet Private Line (EPL) within 145 U.S. metro markets and 10 European countries

• Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) within 145 U.S. metro markets and six Asia-Pacific countries and territories, as well as between the United States and six Asia-Pacific regions, and between the United States and 10 European countries

• E-LAN Services within 53 metro markets in the United States

• Ethernet Access for Private IP and the Internet throughout the United States, within 19 European countries and seven countries within the Asia-Pacific region Building a better backbone In order to better serve its large business customers overseas, Verizon Business announced last month it had deployed its first mesh network in the Atlantic Ocean by using Ciena‘s CoreDirector solution.

Verizon Business is using CoreDirector Multiservice Optical Switches across its terrestrial and undersea cable network. Verizon Business first started looking for a solution in 2004 before migrating voice and data services from its trans-Atlantic legacy rings last April.

Unlike in legacy SONET/SDH networks, protection in an intelligent CoreDirector mesh network is shared across multiple "working" routes using Ciena’s FastMesh restoration technology that can dynamically reroute services around failures using available bandwidth anywhere in the network.

"A ring can survive a single cut; for instance if you’re on a trans-Atlantic ring system such as TAT 14, you can take a cut on the north cable, but if you take a cut on the south cable service is gone," said Floyd Hodges, Verizon Business’ manager of international transmission and equipment planning. "With the mesh network, we’re able to share the restoration requirements across all six of our diverse paths and survive multiple trans-ocean cable failures.

"It allows us to increase our utilization, on average, by 50 percent up to 60 to 70 percent on each route. That’s because on a ring configuration 50 percent of your traffic is your working traffic, and 50 percent has to be reserved for protection, so if you have a failure you have room for it on the other side of the ring. With the mesh system, the protection capacity is spread out all across the multiple paths."

CoreDirector also supports multiple classes of service that map service levels to network resources by combining protection and restoration with routing and signaling intelligence. The combination of fully automated restoration and resiliency provides Verizon Business with a flexible network foundation to customize services to the requirements of specific customers.

"In the first four months, we’ve turned up over 10 gigs of new customers as a direct result of this design," Hodges said. "On international systems, most of the big financial houses and other large bandwidth users buy one circuit from one provider and another circuit from another provider for diversity and survivability reasons. Some of our large bandwidth customers are seeing this as a way to get that same level of network survivability without having to buy two separate circuits from two separate providers." Plan underway for mesh in the Pacific The need for multiple diverse routes was underscored near the end of last month when Verizon’s services in Asia were disrupted by an earthquake. Following the disruption, Verizon announced it would use its Trans-Pacific Express cable to launch a mesh network, but didn’t say if it was using Ciena for the deployment.

Verizon is involved in more than 65 cable networks worldwide, with 18 in the Asia-Pacific, while the Dec. 26 earthquake and its aftershocks affected six to eight lines.

Verizon Business also plans on adding a seventh trans-Atlantic path and additional terrestrial nodes this year.

"It’s a whole new ball game for us and our customers," Hodges said of the Ciena deployment. "We see it (mesh) as the way forward for submarine capacity." – Mike Robuck

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