Competitive carriers hone their Ethernet over Copper skills

Fiber likely will be the ultimate endgame to deliver Ethernet services to businesses. Offering unlimited amounts of bandwidth, incumbent and even competitive service providers have spent billions of dollars building out fiber to large business customers that need large amounts of bandwidth and are willing to pay for it.

Business fiber availability

However, the reality is that even though service providers are multitasking their networks to serve various needs, including enterprise customers and even wholesale opportunities like wireless backhaul, they can't build fiber everywhere.  

While fiber penetration into U.S.-based buildings has increased in recent years, a recent report conducted by Vertical Systems Group revealed that only 27.7 percent of U.S.-based buildings have fiber, meaning that the remaining 72 percent don't have fiber in their buildings yet. Likewise, in Europe only 18.4 percent of buildings have fiber in them as well.

One way to close the so-called fiber gap to serve customers that want Ethernet is the advent of Ethernet over Copper (EoC). Once thought of as a small niche product, EoC enables service providers to leverage the near-ubiquitous copper plant that's already in the ground.

While incumbent players are quietly offering EoC services, a growing group of competitive service providers--including Integra Telecom, PAETEC (Nasdaq: PAET) (via its Intellifiber subsidiary), MegaPath, TelePacific, and XO Communications (OTC BB: XOHO)--have been driving the EoC market with ongoing deployments in their network footprints.

Despite the obvious limitations with copper-based facilities, the advent of new technologies, including pair bonding, NxT1 bonding, VDSL2 and vectoring are pushing the boundaries of data rates delivered over copper. Couple these new innovations with a growing audience of businesses that want to have a service medium that allows them to scale bandwidth more flexibly than purchasing more expensive T1 circuits beyond 1.5 Mbps, EoC has a long life ahead of it.  

EoC is resonating not only with SMBs, but even with medium and large businesses that have various smaller sites across multiple geographies, meaning that for competitive providers EoC is a business service opportunity that's ripe for the picking.

In this special report we'll discuss how these five competitive service providers are delivering EoC and their growth strategies for 2011 and beyond.

Ethernet over Copper Providers
Companies Integra Telecom MegaPath PAETEC/ Intellifiber TelePacific XO Communi-cations
Available LSOs 125 300 COs by end of 2011 275 COs 52 419
Available speeds 2-30 Mbps 2-20 Mbps EoC; 20-90 Mbps VDSL2 1-100 Mbps 1-20 Mbps 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 Mbps
Available markets 11 15 markets by end of 2011 all of Intellifiber's markets 120 LSOs by end of Q1 2011 85
Expansion plans Will add to the 125 currently deployed 35 markets by end of 2012 160 new COs by end of 2011 200 LSOs by end of 2011

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