XO eyes asymmetrical EoC opportunities

Las Vegas—XO Communications is seeing new potential use for asymmetrical speed Ethernet over Copper (EoC) as a way to respond to customers who have applications that don't necessarily need a symmetrical connection.

Up till now, XO has provided mainly symmetrical products, including its highest 100 Mbps tier offering, which it debuted last fall.  

Stopping short of revealing an exact date, Sam Koetter, senior product manager of Ethernet services for XO, said the company plans to start offering an asymmetric Ethernet service tentatively at the end of the year.

"Everything we have focused on so far has been symmetrical services, but the one thing we're looking at, and if we launch it will be some time like Q4 this year, we might start looking at some asymmetrical services," Koetter said in an interview with FierceTelecom. "That would be something like 20 Meg down and 3 Meg upstream at a much lower price than our current 20 Meg symmetrical service."

By offering an asymmetric service, the CLEC said it would be able to offer higher speeds without having to add more copper pairs.

Regardless of the customer type or size, if a customer is using something like just Dedicated Internet Access (DIA), they aren't doing much more than Internet surfing, which is mainly all downstream bandwidth.

Despite the spate of commercials from cable operators that tout higher speeds, Koetter said some businesses really don't need a symmetric bandwidth connection. Of course, the baseline SMB services that a cable operator would provide over their existing DOCSIS network would be asymmetrical.

"If you look at normal traffic patterns there are a lot of customers that don't need symmetrical services," he said. "There are a lot of customers that feel they require a symmetrical service, but the reality is they don't because most of the traffic is all downstream."

Koetter added that by introducing an "asymmetrical service we'll be going after a growing niche."

Not everyone is sure that an asymmetric EoC service is needed, however.

Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), while not opposed to offering asymmetrical EoC, isn't sure where it would fit in the company's current portfolio yet.

The service provider this week announced a nationwide expansion of its Carrier Switched Ethernet service targeting both of its ILEC and CLEC territories.

"The question is where does asymmetrical EoC fall within that spectrum of how you want to price it and what the value proposition is going to be: Is it a more beefed up version of DSL or does it jump to that more robust and reliable level of Ethernet?" said Austin Herrington, director of enterprise and carrier product marketing for Windstream, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "It is something we continue to look at but we have not seen a real driver to dive in there."

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