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Plugging Into WorldCom's Ethernet WAN

Officials at WorldCom launched its new nationwide Ethernet-based fiber optics backbone to businesses Wednesday, opening the door to an easy "plug-and-play" connection from their existing local area network (LAN) intranet to locations around the world.

Using its Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) platform, a standard that breaks down voice and data traffic, WorldCom offers a service that can interconnect a businesses existing system with a fiber optic system at its own pace, without the need for a pricey network overhaul to an Ethernet system.

Many companies use Ethernet LANs to interconnect its individual office buildings, but to date it's been an expensive proposition to fire up an Ethernet wide area network. That's an issue of the past, according to Brian Brewer, WorldCom chief marketing officer.

"With WorldCom's Ethernet services, companies can increase the functionality of their existing networks while sweeping aside technological barriers to future business applications and information asset management that will be made possible by continued advancements in Ethernet technology," he said. "We envision a day when workers will be able to plug into an Ethernet port and gain ubiquitous access to all of their business applications."

WorldCom is offering private line and metropolitan service immediately in the 84 U.S. markets the carrier has an Ethernet presence, which is in turn connected to 3,800 points of presence throughout the world. Virtual private networking (VPN) services are available in seven markets today and will be expanded as demand dictates, officials said.

To date, nationwide Ethernet WAN offerings have been few and far between, given the relatively slow adoption rate to the technology and the fact many major carriers have been reluctant to upgrade their own networks to the new technology.

According to Marian Stasney, Yankee Group senior analyst, the U.S. will see a surge in availability in the coming years as more and more carriers adopt Ethernet WAN.

We believe retail metro Ethernet services revenue is set to increase sharply over the next five years, reaching over $4 billion by 2006," she said. "WorldCom's Ethernet services meet the demand that is clearly there. With an extensive SONET footprint and more than 6000 lit buildings, WorldCom is poised to offer cost-effective Ethernet solutions and to bring customers on-line quickly."

In addition to the fiber optic backbone and VPN in certain areas of the U.S., WorldCom's firewall service for corporations, as well as data centers located throughout the world, give the carrier an edge over many regional Ethernet WAN operations.

The company also proudly points to its service level agreements (SLAs), which include 100 percent network availability and 99 percent packet delivery guarantees.