Stream launches gigabit Ethernet service

Stream Intelligent Networks Corp. launched its gigabit Ethernet service in the Greater Toronto Area in early December with promises of guaranteed and scalable bandwidth.

Stream is now offering its Metropolitan Ethernet service in more than 20 buildings in downtown Toronto. Most of the buildings where the service is available are connected to the underground path that spans from Union Station to as far north as the Eaton Centre.

“Our target markets today, as an organization, are high bandwidth users, so with respect to gigabit Ethernet, we have two target markets,” said Steve Spooner, president and CEO of Toronto-based Stream. The first market is users who may be currently using DSL-based service and are looking to upgrade to a scalable gigabit Ethernet service. The second market is large corporate customers, ISPs, ASPs, Internet data centres, Web hosting facilities – all companies that need big bandwidth pipes.

The company’s Ethernet offerings include services like voice over IP, video-on-demand, video conferencing and Internet services. The company started evaluating gigabit Ethernet switches in the fall and settled on switches from Foundry Networks of San Jose, Calif.

As a scalable service, customers can buy bandwidth from 1Mbps right up to 1Gbps and can increase the amount of bandwidth as their needs grow. Stream’s introductory pricing puts 5Mbps service at $400 per month, 10Mbps at $800, 100Mbps at $4000 and 1Gbps at $20,000.

“We believe that is very aggressive pricing and we want to get a good level of customer interest,” Spooner said. “This is a time-limited offer, so to speak, to get initial interest in the service.”

According to Stan Schatt, vice-president of Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group Inc., it’s difficult to calculate the average price of gigabit Ethernet service because prices are often negotiated on an individual basis, so different customers can end up paying different prices but still use the same service. Also, the fact that the metropolitan gigabit Ethernet services industry is only about a year old means that there is little to no competition.

“There isn’t a lot of competition yet because not everyone has been going into the same metropolitan area markets,” Schatt said.

As Stream builds its GTA service to include more than just the downtown Toronto core, the company is also looking at building similar infrastructure in other cities, Spooner said. Which city will be next on Stream’s agenda has yet to be decided, but Stream is looking at Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and the Kitchener-Waterloo area.