FierceTelecom: While Ethernet exchanges are still relatively nascent, there have been others (Equinix, Neutral Tandem and Telx) joining the market. Are there any differentiators that CENX brings to the market segment?
Brown: The teams that have been working on CENX are the best in the industry. I'll bet there are more people working on this problem than anyone else in the industry. Having said that, that's not what customers care about because the proof is in the pudding.
When people start experiencing how we operate in terms of how we go through the interconnection process, how we do the certification, go through the monitoring, they'll see a real operational skill that they won't see in other places. The third thing that we do that's also different is we are location neutral and we don't sell to enterprises. A lot of other guys are focused on a finite set of locations and frankly compete with their carrier customers in some situations. I think we're a cleaner and more neutral play strategically and I think operationally we're going to be better.
FierceTelecom: Although Ethernet exchanges will help carriers make interconnections a bit easier, it seems that from the conversations I have had with some of them, they see it as a tool in the toolbox that would still include traditional E-NNI and other interconnection arrangements. Would you agree with that assessment?
Brown: I'll never say it's going to be 100 percent either way. There's going to be some mix here. My expectation here is that a very large amount of off-net traffic will go through an exchange. The reason is going to be old fashioned operational efficiency and manageability. When people do a side-by-side, they'll end up making that choice. The direct connect is a more mature arrangement, which I can tell you from my role at AT&T. The reality is the exchanges are newer. Like I said, we're still at the very early stages of Ethernet so it's not what will be done, but rather what will happen. I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe. The one thing that's good about the competition showing up is it validates the basic hypothesis that there really is value here. The other thing is it raises the bar for everyone. There's always going to be alternatives and the marketplace will decide.
FierceTelecom: Whether it's through a direct connection or through an exchange, the obvious concern of the buying carrier is maintaining QoS end to end. Do you believe that that's a challenge CENX can help carriers overcome these issues in creating new Ethernet interconnection arrangements?
Brown: Quality and manageability of third-party networks has been sort of the bugaboo of a lot of networking companies. It's hard to sectionalize where the problems are. You've seen carriers put an extra box on the customer premise behind the third-party network and absorb that cost just so they get more manageability. What you'll see from companies like CENX is new tools and new capabilities that make that manageability for carriers to integrate and use.
FierceTelecom: I know you're still relatively new to your position, but what are your initial goals for CENX going forward?
Brown: The big things I am focusing on here are making sure we built a big constituency of buyers and sellers. You'll see us focusing on that. The critical measure of success there is the Ethernet served locations and expanding the footprint. At the course, we'll be doing all that with top draw processes and quality. At the end of the day, we're serving among the most demanding customers in the world, which are carriers that are using us to support mission critical applications. We talk about our mission to be the strongest link in the chain and make sure that as we deliver the service they truly see as a strong link.