FirstLight targets wholesale opportunities with new Ethernet Access service

FirstLight Fiber has begun offering its wholesale Ethernet Access service throughout its entire footprint serving upstate New York and northern New England.

Eligible customers can get the Layer 2 Ethernet Access service in point-to-point, point-to-multipoint and multipoint-to-multipoint configurations. It also includes two additional elements: a port-based service at the UNI (Access Ethernet Private Line) and a VLAN-Aware service at the UNI (Access Ethernet Virtual Private Line).

A key element of the offering is consistency for both wholesale customers and their end-user business clients.

End-users will be able to get a complete solution that looks and feels as though their local carrier is delivering it themselves with necessary QoS. Meanwhile, a wholesale carrier customer can also choose a single location to connect to FirstLight's network and then leverage its 1,400 on-net building locations and 10,000 near-net locations to provide service to customers.

"Our primary focus is in those Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets with some gateways to those larger markets such as Boston, New York, Montreal and one of the larger carriers where their PoPs happen to be," said Brian Kurkowski, CTO of FirstLight Fiber, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "In order to deliver that access service to the carrier customers we have to get to them, which means we have to get to Boston, get to New York and have large pipes into Albany, Manchester or places where carriers have their presence."

This new service is part of a broader initiative FirstLight took to integrate all of the properties it purchased such as TelJet and SegTel.

Part of that integration included the deployment of the Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) 6500 platform to interconnect its markets with DWDM. It uses a mix of Cyan and Telco Systems gear to deliver Ethernet. 

Each of its four regions, including Maine, southeastern and southwestern New Hampshire, Vermont and eastern New York, now have their own rings. As a result, these four markets become metro Ethernet transport regions.  

"What the deployment of the Ciena platform has allowed us to do is regionalize those plays so we now have four regions, which are Maine, southeastern New Hampshire, southwestern New Hampshire, Vermont and eastern New York," Kurkowski said. "What we have been able to do is take that long haul network and centralize that into a gateway system and in each of those regions taken the network that was out there and upgraded it and developed that metro regional Ethernet."

In addition to DWDM, the new Ethernet Access service leverages Provider Backbone Bridging-Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE).

While the momentum around PBB-TE has waned in recent years, Kurkowski said it provides a number of benefits.

"PBB-TE has worked out really well for us and the reason is we bought networks that were pieced together themselves," he said. "The technology with the Provider Backbone Bridging allows us to use those disparate assets and draw our own rings create our own meshes on the infrastructure that's already there."

Complementing its use of PBB-TE, the service provider has also designed a next-gen ring concept that connects fiber to each of the 100 Central Offices (CO) where it has put in equipment in the towns and cities it serves. Each CO serves as its central points.

To ensure consistent uptime, FirstLight has implemented the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) GR.8032 version two Ethernet Ring Protection Switching standard technology, which provides sub-50 millisecond protection and recovery switching for Ethernet deployed in a ring topology.  

"When version 2 was released, you could get more than one or two rings out of a device, which has allowed us to use an in and out," Kurkowski said. "We might have true ring, depending on the customer need where we have geographic diversity or we have collapsed ring for our own purposes, it does support the Metro Ethernet Forum's overlay of EPL, EVPL and just now deployed access VPL."

Already, the new Ethernet Access product is gaining customer interest. Local CLEC BayRing Communications will use FirstLight's metro Ethernet to extend its network reach, for example.

For more:
- see the release

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