Griffin Hails New BTW Etherway Service

BT Wholesale (BTW) is set to launch an Ethernet in the first mile (EFM) service that promises to provide fast reliable connectivity at an affordable price.

Andre Dickinson at leading service provider Griffin Internet says that his company was BTW’s very first customer for Wholesale Ethernet when they installed the Welsh Assembly for partner Logicalis last year. Griffin has been working closely with BTW on EFM and is very excited by the potential benefits it has for both their Partners and their customers.

The BTW product is called Etherway copper.

Dickinson says that EFM is important because it is the next step in the transition to fast, reliable and affordable IP connectivity to customers’ premises.

“Ethernet offers true un-contended, symmetric and guaranteed bandwidth that is easy to run QoS over.

If you are selling SIP, hosted voice or thinking about Software as a Service (SaaS) then you know how vital the network is to your proposition. Specialist ISPs like Griffin have turned best-effort ADSL into business products by investing in their core but there are still limitations with a technology initially designed for web browsing and email. Ethernet is a standard known to everybody and may ultimately replace DSL completely in the business market.”

BTW Etherway service is delivered over copper pairs and you can ‘bond’ up to eight pairs together to get to the speed you want. Each pair will run at between 2.3Mbit/s and 5.7Mbit/s depending on the distance from the exchange. The most you can be from the exchange is 3km and since the maximum speed BTW is offering at this time is 10Mbit/s you should never need more than five copper pairs.

Dickins says that BTW have told him that 80% of businesses are within 3km of an exchange and around 600 exchanges will be EFM enabled from April 2009. This will increase steadily until most of the country is covered.

EFM is not a standalone product but part of the new Wholesale Ethernet family. This means that to buy it you will need to go through a Service Provider like Griffin that has a Wholesale Ethernet hand-off with BTW.

Prices Still TBA

Early indications on costs are that the price to the reseller will be comparable with existing Annex M and SDSL offerings from LLU suppliers and a good deal cheaper than BTW’s current SDSL product.

Whatever the final launch pricing BTW’s EFM is certain to be cheaper than traditional Ethernet and because there are no roads to dig up or fibres to terminate, installs are cheaper (around £250 – £500 depending on the number of pairs) and the standard lead time is only 26 working days.

Dickinson concludes by saying that on service levels BTW are still negotiating with Openreach but that they expect service the SLA to be ‘significantly better’ than that of ADSL.

Lance Spencer at Tiscali told us, “Tiscali launched the ADSL2+ Annex M based products to the Wholesale market in mid 2008, to meet the need for small businesses and/or small sites of larger enterprises that require cost effective high throughput both Upstream and Downstream, including SDSL replacement products.”

The experience with these products has been very positive with 60% of sales through re-sellers taking the rate adaptive 16Mb/2.5Mb variant and the 40% taking SDSL replacement products.

On average Tiscali based Annex M customers are getting over 12Mb downstream and over 2 Mb upstream.

In the enterprise space there is demand for high quality fibre based Ethernet delivery from the exchange to meet the needs of larger sites, but the SLGs are key for this market segment.

Currently Tiscali has not seen a demand from re-sellers for low quality copper based Ethernet services, but will respond if demand becomes apparent in the market.”

Meanwhile James Mitchell, Sector Development Manager at Cable&Wireless said, “C&W are excited by the possibilities of EFM for both our Managed customers and Wholesale partners. We are currently testing this new technology with a view to the potential for deploying it throughout our networks.”