The advent of the Ethernet exchange, a carrier-neutral concept that's set on standardizing the way service providers create Ethernet service interconnection agreements, is set on solving the common problem of helping service providers scale their service capabilities for customers that happen to reside outside of their own respective territory.
Much of the drive for off-net Ethernet connectivity is, not surprisingly, coming from larger multi-national corporations (MNCs) and multi-site businesses that want their service provider to have one carrier as their supplier at all of their sites. As is typical in the telecom industry, service providers have a couple of lines of defense in responding to their customer's off-net Ethernet needs.
First, service providers can leverage their own available network with a preference towards fiber-based facilities. Having a fiber connection into a building means the service provider will be able deliver very high speed connections to each business that resides in the respective building.
However, the obvious reality is that not every provider can reach every building with their own fiber or even copper facilities. Barring the availability of their own fiber, the next step could be to leverage a bonded copper or Ethernet over Copper (EoCopper) connection, Ethernet over SONET/SDH or other available facilities from a carrier partner.
Given the complexity and time it takes for two service providers to establish a E-NNI arrangement--a process that will continue to be conducted between carriers even as the Ethernet exchange gains momentum--the goal of the Ethernet exchange can simplify and cut down the time of that process.
"The major driver [of Ethernet exchanges] is that doing bilateral interconnect agreements is painful," said Rosemary Cochran, Principal of Vertical Systems Group. "It's something that has been done, is being done and has been done by all of the major providers because no service provider is everywhere."