Frontier Communications rolls out wholesale EVPL services in 23 states

Products targeted at business customers with locations outside traditional territories
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Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR) on Tuesday made a statement in the wholesale Ethernet space by introducing its new Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) Silver service to address the needs of service providers targeting multi-site businesses.

Traditional Internet Service Providers, CLECs and IXCs that need last-mile connectivity to serve business customers who have locations outside of their traditional service territories are prime targets for the wholesale service.

As a point-to-point product, EVPL Silver will offer a range of Ethernet interfaces of 10/100/1000 Mbps and can scale from as low as 1 Mbps up to 1 Gbps.

Mirroring the same Ethernet service the company has offered in its retail channel, Silver EVPL is a best effort VLAN-based product which they have built out in areas where they currently have Ethernet switches deployed.

Later this year, Frontier will offer multipoint-to-multipoint capabilities, Class of Service (CoS), Internet access, regional interconnects, network performance reporting and service level agreements. One piece of this will include performance metrics that customers will be able to access via a portal.

Other specific Ethernet products will include an Internet access offer for the wholesale channel and a multipoint-to-multipoint E-LAN service.

"We expect to put together an Internet access offer for the wholesale side as there's one that exists on the retail side and move into an E-LAN multipoint-to-multipoint offering which does not exist on the retail side," said Lisa Partridge, product manager for Frontier Communications' wholesale data, in an interview with FierceTelecom.

A big piece of the new wholesale service is providing necessary External-Network to Network Interconnection (E-NNI) agreements with other carriers that need to serve customers who reside in Frontier's Ethernet footprint.

"Providing interconnect is part of what we're striving for these customers to do by having them put an NNI in our footprint within a LATA that services them where they are trying to go," Partridge said. "From there we'll hub and spoke those various types of access points to their end-user premises or at least have another migration point of private line services."

Before the advent of the EVPL, Frontier's wholesale customers had primarily used a mix of traditional TDM-like services, ATM and Frame Relay.

Partridge said "this is a natural progression to go from being a telephone [company] to being a complex data company by putting Ethernet together."

Later iterations of the product will include a priority EVPL Gold offering that will be launched in Q2 2013, followed by a Platinum real-time offering in the third quarter. 

Frontier's new EVPL and overall wholesale drive is part of an evolution of the Verizon (NYSE: VZ) network infrastructure in the 14 states where the company acquired that infrastructure in 2010. Before the acquisition, Frontier's focus was mainly telecom residential and commercial. While they sold a mix of Internet, DSL and some Ethernet, 85 percent of it was Internet access using Ethernet.

On the wholesale side, Frontier had mainly delivered traditional TDM-based access services including DS1, OC-3, OC-12 and some Ethernet on an Individual Case Basis (ICB) basis, meaning it would have to build the service for a wholesale customer on a custom basis. All of that changed when it acquired Verizon's rural lines in 14 states.

"Fast forward to July of 2010 when the acquisition of Verizon's lines happened there were specific products that were part of that portfolio and Ethernet was one of them as well as SONET and other services," Partridge said. "It was a very well structured architecture of what wholesale products would like for a wholesale channel so that drove our customers to start asking... to buy these types of services in all 27 markets of your footprint."

This wholesale drive follows Frontier's move to roll out metro Ethernet service to over 55 markets stretched across 10 states in October 2011.

While fiber is a big priority to carry the wholesale services, Frontier will also leverage its existing copper plant to deliver Ethernet over Copper (EoC) to address lower speed opportunities.

"The other thing is the service offer will be done on copper where we can, which was something that was not done through the Verizon offers because they were strictly fiber," Partridge said. "With Frontier having an extensive copper plant, we do take advantage of that for the lower speed requests."

Given the new innovations to increase the rate and reach of EoC, Partridge added that the company plans to deliver higher speed EoC services in specific parts of its footprint.

"We are getting up to 40 Mbps in some places where we are looking at a hybrid type of scenario, and have not gone so far as to roll that out quite yet, but that would be the next step from a copper perspective to make that announcement in places where we know we can do that," she said.

What's different about Frontier's latest Ethernet drive is that instead of having to build out custom solutions, they are going to leverage Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF)-based standards. Part of that drive will include standard pricing and design and turn-up processes that the industry already follows.

With the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) certification now taking place, Frontier plans to develop a plan to get its Ethernet products certified.

"That's where we plan to go next is to go after 2.0 certification because that's something that the company has never done," Partridge said. "It would be the next step for us and have people learning about that and starting to understand how important it is amongst our peers."

For more:
- see the release

Special report: Stepping to the EoC plate: Incumbent telcos take a swing

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