BILLIONS. THAT’S THE HOOK FOR JUST ABOUT
every discussion about commercial
services these days — those big
buckets of cash, just waiting to be
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
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.
Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at