With carrier grade fibre connectivity now the de facto standard for enterprise networks, fibre optic customers of can enjoy the ease-of-use benefits this brings.
Fibre optic can be classified as a carrier-class product in the sense that it comes standard with guarantees and ensures predictability in terms of the following:
* Low jitter and latency;
* Guaranteed speed and it’s reliable with scalability;
* Distance; and
* No interference.
These rich features enable service providers to offer guarantees in terms of uptime, realtime applications such as voice/VOIP and service level agreements (SLAs) that ultimately underpin a good customer experience. fibre connectivity can thus be defined as the Ferrari of connectivity technologies.
Johan Olivier, manager: commercial business at XDSL, says: “Unfortunately, some Service Providers in South Africa are making a predictable quality technology an unpredictable service. This is done by using terminology such as ‘enterprise’ and ‘guaranteed’ but actually include features such as fair usage policies, usage-based methodologies, contention ratios and even reducing the speed once a certain utilisation has been reached in their associated contract terms and conditions and fine print.
“It is ultimately contributing to the devaluing of fibre connectivity in South Africa and is the opposite or inverse of what carrier grade fibre is all about. Many service providers are thus offering ‘best effort’ broadband solutions branded as enterprise. One can compare this to the Ferrari having bicycle wheels.”
The general definition of enterprise fibre in South Africa is based on a 1:1 contention ratio with an associated 100% committed information rate. Pitfalls that customers need to be aware of when purchasing carrier grade fibre include service providers that use enterprise terminology but only offer broadband type solutions that include features such as usage-based contended services with half the line speed after a certain period.
In addition, some service providers also use low cost deployment methods and cheap, inferior equipment that ultimately influences the customer experience. Customers therefore need to read the fine print in their contracts as it could define something totally different to what has actually been sold.
Another factor that could provide business customers with an indication of what they are actually purchasing is the technology used as part of their solution. It could be Gigabit passive optical networks (GPON) technology versus active Ethernet technology deployment. One normally associates GPON with broadband type solutions and therefore cannot be used with dedicated enterprise 1:1 solutions. Therefore, broadband can definitely be defined as a best effort service if no guarantees can be provided.
An example of such a broadband type solution is where a 20Mbps has been sold with maximum capable traffic of 6Tb. Once a certain percentage of this usage has been reached, the service provider will rate-limit your speed to a certain level, even as much as 50% in certain instances.
“As part of an ongoing drive, we at XDSL Networking Solutions are educating the market to ensure they are aware of all the pitfalls and fine print in proposals and contracts when purchasing fibre connectivity,” Olivier says.
“We do not offer enterprise or broadband solutions with fair usage policies or ones that are based on a usage concept. We have purposely positioned our pricing on our enterprise offerings at a fraction more than our broadband offerings to entice customers to rather purchase enterprise 1:1 solutions on a 100% committed information rate.”
Also included in the XDSL enterprise fibre SLAs are guaranteed penalty payouts to indicate to our customers that we have aligned our quality fibre offerings with the carrier grade characteristics of fibre. In addition, SLA penalties are measured over a period of three months versus the industry standard of 12 months. All of XDSL’s SLAs are included in their standard fibre contracts.
Olivier adds: “We have also noted that in Europe and America, product and price has fallen to number seven on the list of customer priorities when purchasing connectivity and the focus has now shifted to customer experience with associated SLAs and support that is provided by their respective service provider.”