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Translation Please

More Language of Commercial Services

3/28/2011 10:24 AM

Billions. That’s the hook for just about every discussion about commercial services these days - those big buckets of cash, just waiting to be hauled in.

How big? The market for metro Ethernet services is projected to attract $40.2 billion by 2014; cable’s share of that could be as high as $10 billion (citing data from Vertical Systems).

And that’s about the only thing that’ll get your pulse up. If you haven’t yet wandered into to the business of serving businesses, know going in that it’s as dry as sawdust. Jargon? Maybe a little. Here’s a sampling, from a recent batch of notes: “Since devices can have multiple Ethernet virtual circuits running across them, they may each have different logical MEGs - because you wouldn’t want MEPs for customer A’s service to be able to collect data from customer B’s EVC.” Heavens no!

Let’s start at the beginning, using DOCSIS as the conversational foundation. We mostly know DOCSIS as the specification for cable modems that serve residences with broadband services. But it’s also under heavy tweak to be a foundational technology for serving businesses with connectivity.

What do businesses need that households typically don’t? For starters, guarantees. SLAs, as they’re called, for Service Level Agreements. That means they want to assurances about throughput - are my data moving at the rate of speed I purchased? - and overall network availability.

They want to be able to monitor and receive proof against things like frame delay, and frame loss. “Frame” is a term from the carrier world, meaning groups of digital packets associated with linking one local area network (LAN), to another. So frame delay indicates the time it takes to get from the place where data is transmitting, to the place where it ends up. Frame loss counts how many packets are dropped or damaged en route.

Usually, businesses want to manage their services themselves - another difference from residential data services. And, they need ways to customize their data plans accordingly.

Which brings us back (kind of) to the jargon sentence. Loosely translated, it means this: When you’re linking businesses with “virtualized” (cloud-based) Ethernet services, you want to make sure the professional-grade cable modems associated with the local State Farm offices don’t have visibility into those serving the pizza chain.

The good news: Those buckets of cash are real. Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable surpassed $1 billion (individually) last year, in terms of revenue collected from businesses.

Which means it’s probably time to elbow past the dullness of the commercial services scene. Dig in, learn the lingo, bring in the haul. It’ll be fun.
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Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at translationplease.com or multichannel.com/blog.

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