Charter Business Takes Ethernet For The Long Haul

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Charter Business is extending its Optical Ethernet service for midsize customers with a long-haul service that will connect multiple sites across the MSO's footprint.

Charter offers secure virtual private networking with the long-haul connectivity and touts 300 Gbps of backbone capacity. Its network comprises more than 55,000 fiber route miles, serving thousands of fiber-lit locations and thousands more "near-net" locations throughout its 25-state footprint.

"We now can interconnect customers across basically any location in our footprint, whereas in the past it would have been restricted to a single state or a small multi-state area," Charter Business product management director Scott Fairchild said.

The MSO began a trial of the service last fall and soft-launched it in May, Fairchild said. Initial interest has been strong in financial and health care sectors, he added.

Charter Business -- which is a certified Metro Ethernet Forum provider -- will primarily compete on pricing with the new service. In the operator's tier 2 and tier 3 markets, "customers don't have a lot of choices," Fairchild said. "The benefit is to have one provider who can do all of the above."

The long-haul Ethernet transport service is provided with quality-of-service guarantees using Charter's Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network. The MSO's backbone is based largely on Cisco Systems equipment; on the customer premises side, Charter has used Cisco and also will be deploying Alcatel-Lucent in the near future.

In addition, Charter Business has interconnect arrangements with most other major providers, to provide access wholesale to other geographic regions.

In March, the commercial services unit launched new carrier interconnect capabilities in five strategic locations throughout the U.S to provide wholesale access to its fiber network: two sites in Los Angeles, with additional sites in Atlanta, St. Louis, Mo., and Worcester, Mass. Charter entered into agreements with CENX, operator of the world's first Carrier Ethernet Exchange, and global interconnection provider Equinix.