Neutral Tandem: Pushing the Ethernet exchange forward

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Surendra Saboo, Neutral TandemConnectivity provider Neutral Tandem has set a good reputation as a carrier-neutral tandem switching provider--carrying over nine billion minutes of voice traffic per month between carriers--but its leadership is focusing on being more than just a waystation for calls between U.S. carrier networks. The company's recent acquisition of Italian IP transit company Tinet SpA has opened up a global opportunity in the Ethernet space.

"(We) have been in the (Ethernet) business for six years now, but our footprint has been limited in the U.S.," explained Surendra Saboo, Senior Vice President and COO of Neutral Tandem, in a recent FierceTelecom interview. The advent of the Ethernet exchange concept perked the company's interest. "When we looked into the Ethernet space, it opened up a whole lot of options."

Neutral Tandem's Ethernet play focuses on end-to-end connectivity on a global scale, hence its acquisitional interest in Tinet, which has over 600 customers in 70 countries and NNIs (network to network interfaces) in 15 countries.

"What makes a difference in the Ethernet Exchange space is to have that presence worldwide," all interconnected through Neutral Tandem-owned Ethernet exchange points.

The company also formed a strategic partnership with Telx shortly after the provider announced its Ethernet exchange, a move Saboo feels that, in conjunction with the Tinet acquisition, puts the company "far ahead in terms of value to our customers."

For the short term, Neutral Tandem sees the most interest in Ethernet exchange interconnectivity, at least in the United States, coming from Tier 2 carriers, for whom network interconnects can be costly. "(Before) they would just go to Qwest and buy off their hub service," Saboo explained. This way, the network is part of the service, a "one-plug" solution that maintains the integrity of the service. Internationally, the Ethernet exchange offers better connections to countries that typically were more difficult to reach through traditional TDM tandem switching.

The company continues to move forward, recently announcing that it has brought all 14 of its planned Ethernet exchanges online across the U.S. Its Tinet assets add another 85 points of presence (PoPs) globally.