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Move from frame relay and ATM to Ethernet services gains speed

As carriers like Verizon phase out frame relay and ATM services, companies are speeding up adoption of Ethernet

By , Network World
October 09, 2012 01:56 PM ET

Network World - As carriers step up the pressure on their corporate customers to migrate off older frame relay, ATM and private-line technologies and adopt IP networks, companies that make the switch are reaping the rewards of instant savings and improved service.

Verizon made headlines over the summer when it announced that its frame relay and ATM customers have three years to migrate to modern IP services. Efforts like these by top-tier carriers are driving up sales of Ethernet among an array of service providers.

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Companies that invest in these network upgrades -- particularly those that purchase Ethernet services ranging from 10Mbps to 10Gbps -- say they are getting more bandwidth for less money as well as improved scalability and reliability.

Sarris Candies, a Canonsburg, Pa., maker of fine chocolates, is paying $300 less per month for more than twice the bandwidth since it switched from Earthlink's T-1 service to Ethernet service from Comcast Business Services.

"Everything we do is across the Internet," says Norm Candalore, IT manager at Sarris Candies. "We are online 24/7. It's very important that we're up and running. It's very important that we're stable, and it's very important that we are secure."

Sarris switched from a 4.5Mbps service -- or three T-1 lines -- from Earthlink to a 10Mbps Ethernet service from Comcast. Comcast provides fiber-optic connectivity to Sarris' main office and its warehouse a half-mile down the road.

Comcast's Internet service "has been flawless since we had it installed in June 2011," Candalore says.

Indeed, the reliability of the Comcast Ethernet service has already come in handy for Sarris, which suffered from a major fire in February 2012.

"A third of our buildings were up in flames. I went across the street to our warehouse and within 15 minutes we were up and running. We never missed a beat because we run system backups every five minutes, which we weren't able to do on our old network," Candalore says.

The 400-employee chocolate company, which sells through retail outlets such as Rite-Aid and CVS stores, needs robust Internet service during its seasonal peaks at Christmas and Easter. It also has an email marketing campaign that involves sending 18 million emails a year, as well as social networking outreach. Other applications that run on the network include accounting, billing, ordering and supply chain interaction.

Sarris has enough demand for additional bandwidth that it's considering upgrading to 32Mbps connectivity after Easter 2013. "Our Internet service is 100% better than it used to be," Candalore says.

Sarris Candies is not alone. A growing number of midsize and enterprise U.S. companies are moving off legacy network technologies such as T-1s, frame relay and ATM and embracing Ethernet.

The U.S. Ethernet services market topped $6 billion in 2011, according to Vertical Systems Group, which estimates that enterprise port demand is growing at a rate of around 30%.

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