1. Guest Blog: Observations from Metro Connect 2013 in Miami this Week

    CEN Feature (Feb 21 2013)

    1. Guest Blog: Observations from Metro Connect 2013 in Miami this Week

      For 13 years, Capacity Media has hosted the wholesale carrier conference Metro Connect in Miami. This event brings together the most senior executives from leading US service providers, and every year proves to be a fabulous forum for the big ideas in telecom. 

      The following is a loose compilation of my observations:

      Atlantic-ACM president Fedor Smith presided over the opening CEO panel focused on identifying opportunities and threats in the metro market. Panelist Kevin Coyne, CFO of Fiberlight, sees growth opportunities in rural Texas, where the market supports pricing that is as much as 10x that of highly competitive urban areas. Kevin O’Hara, CEO of Integra Telecom, has recently led a shift in his company’s portfolio that is focused much more on Carrier Ethernet solutions and in offering wholesale access services. Integra’s footprint in the Western US does not lend itself to the traditional financial services vertical supported by the East Coast providers. They have found opportunities in healthcare, government and education. Since introducing wholesale Ethernet services, they have added nearly 60 NNI customers and approximately 15%-20% new sales are wholesale. O’Hara stated that Integra is now successfully “offering Ethernet over Copper up to 60Mbps, and we now pass over 100,000 business locations.” 

      In the same panel Clint Heiden, President of Sidera Networks, provided the most memorable quote of the week when he challenged the current definition of “the cloud.” Heiden said “who stepped back and gave the cloud to the datacenter guys?” He went on to claim that “the network is the cloud. We [the carriers] are the cloud!” His point was reinforced on the second day by Lumos Networks CEO, Timothy Biltz. Heiden declared that “100Gbps is here today.” Dan Caruso, President and CEO of Zayo Group chimed in with a claim that his company has numerous 100G customers.

      Don MacNeil, CMO of XO Communications, on a “Spotlight on the Network” panel, described some of the features of their network. With a dual-pronged business focus on enterprise services and wholesale services for other carriers, XO has taken a media-agnostic approach to their access network. MacNeil said that XO deploys services over copper, fiber, microwave. He explained that copper continues to play a vital role in delivering Ethernet for rates for 3Mbps – 40Mbps.

      On a panel entitled “Software Defined Networking: the Future of the Network?” moderator Aaron Blazar of Atlantic-ACM guided a lively discussion among participants from tw telecom, Mid-Atlantic broadband, Cyan and Overture. Mike Rouleau, SVP of Business Development and Strategy at tw telecom, explained that, rather than talk about software defined networks, he prefer to doesn’t like to focus on what he calls a software driven network. Referencing a project called “Constellation,” tw telecom is creating a network on demand for enterprise connectivity and access to the cloud infrastructure providers. On that same panel, Prayson Pate, Overture’s Chief Technologist pointed out that the excitement around SDN is “really all about bringing the benefits of the cloud to the metro edge, uniting the worlds of connect, compute and store.” Pate further explained that his service provider customers are looking to SDN for new revenue generating services as well as operational savings.

      In the final talk of day one, Hunter Newby, CEO of Allied Fiber, introduced most of the audience to a new government initiative called "First Responder Network Authority,” or “FirstNet” for short, that was included as a provision of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The act provides $7 billion in funding towards the development of a nationwide broadband wireless network for public safety and emergency medical personnel. It’s difficult to argue with the merit of such a network, but Newby pointed out – in not so subtle terms – that this “largest telecom project in the history of the country” will not be subject to many of the regulations that encumber the existing mobile service providers, and FirstNet will have vast authority to build network infrastructure when and where it sees fit. For more information, check out the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) website here.

      On today’s panel on “service delivery in the metro markets” Ben Edmond, Global Capacity’s chief revenue officer, said he believes in a state of interconnectedness to bring value to the network. “The MEF is probably doing the best job in the industry – with MEF 26 E-NNI – standardizing the interconnect,” said Edmond “to help solve some of the real interoperability issues in the industry.” Edmond also opined on the current level of capital discipline in the business, stating “the industry has figured out a way to deploy capital with defined returns. No one wants to repeat the ‘build it and they will come’ mistakes of the past.” Karen Schmidt, executive director of product management and strategy at Comcast Business Services countered slightly, explaining that “for their entry into the enterprise Ethernet service business, Comcast did significant initial build out in anticipation of demand.” 

      From the tone set by the industry executives presenting at this year’s Metro Connect, the industry continues to be a vibrant and dynamic place to do business.




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