Toronto Hydro launches 10 Gig service

A service recently announced by Toronto Hydro Telecom should appeal to any company with a large data centre that wants to avoid prioritizing traffic, according to a market research analyst.

Toronto Hydro Telecom announced this week, Managed Wave, a metro-area networking service that can move content at speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps), over its fibre optic cabling using Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM). This lets carriers and service providers run several optical signals using different wavelengths over the same cable simultaneously.

Managed Wave is available now to businesses in most areas of Toronto and the bordering city of Mississauga. The service will support a variety of applications, including data management, computer-aided design, video streaming, storage-area networking and disaster recovery. It can also be used to connect different local-area networks (LANs) in different locations.

“This looks like a metro-area network service that (Toronto) Hydro would be perfectly well-positioned to provide,” said Brownlee Thomas, Montreal-based principal analyst for enterprise telecom services at Forrester Research Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.

Thomas added any company with a large data centre needing to move vast amounts of content could be in the market for Managed Wave, depending on the price.

“When you’ve got all this bandwidth, you don’t have to worry about prioritizing traffic,” she said “Anywhere you want fat pipe, you want this. I think this is well positioned, depending on the price point.”

The cost varies widely, depending on the bandwidth, number of locations and services running over the network, said Toronto Hydro Telecom president Dave Dobbin.

“It depends on what you want,” Dobbin said. “The service is available in a plethora of flavours,” and users can separate into different types of channels, including Gigabit Ethernet, OC3 and DS3. For example, Dobbin said, a user with a simple service between two locations might pay a fee as low as $4,000 per month, whereas someone else might pay more than $100,000 per month.

“You don’t just buy 2.5 gigabits,” he said. “You buy it with something that you’re doing at the end,” such as a storage-area network, voice or video. One customer using Managed Wave distributes uncompressed high-definition video content among nine locations in Toronto, and then has it sent to cable and satellite television distributors, Dobbin said. He could not specify any customers because Toronto Hydro Telecom’s contracts include confidentiality agreements.

Another customer, in the health care industry, uses it to transmit high-resolution images, including X-rays and MRI scans, he said, adding a financial service customer is using it to connect a storage-area network. Dobbin predicts the desire for disaster recovery capability will drive demand for services like Managed Wave, because disaster recovery is more effective when the secondary site is not in the same building as the primary site.

“You want the other system immediately active” if the primary system fails, he said, adding backup is only effective when the most recent data is backed up. “Yesterday’s data doesn’t help me in an online world,” Dobbin said.

In a recent Forrester Research survey, cited by Thomas, of companies shopping for metro-area networks, 62 per cent of respondents said they want to increase the bandwidth available to data centre storage sites.

Forrester surveyed about 700 companies with more than 1,000 employees, and seven per cent of respondents said adoption of metropolitan or long-haul networks is a “critical priority” right now, while an additional 13 per cent said it’s a “priority.” Forty-six per cent said it’s “not on the agenda” while 30 per cent said it is on the agenda.

In the same poll, Forrester also asked companies to describe their adoption of metro-area networking. Twenty-two per cent said it was “fully deployed,” 17 per cent said it was “partially deployed” and an additional 17 per cent said they were either evaluating the technology or they had implemented a pilot project.

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