Primus offers Ethernet over copper in three cities

One of the country’s biggest independent Internet service providers is now offering what it says is affordable high speed Ethernet service over copper lines for small and medium businesses in three Eastern Canadian cities.

Primus Telecommunications Canada said Tuesday that its BEX service – short for Business Ethernet Extended – is particularly aimed at companies that are getting into cloud services. Their only choice has been fibre optic-based symmetrical Ethernet services offered by large carriers, said A.J. Byers, Primus Canada’s executive vice-president for business services.

“The problem is most small to medium business could not afford to purchase those services and were stuck with less reliable DSL-based services,” Byers said.

BEX uses a solution from Zhone Technologies of Oakland based on the IEEE’s 802.11ah standard, sometimes called Ethernet in the first Mile (EFM). It involves installing a card at a central office and bonding multiple copper loops for high speed.

“It allows us to offer Ethernet services of up to 40 Mbps at price points that are far less than market rates today,” Byers said.

Initially, Primus is offering a 10 Mpbs unlimited bandwidth service for $600 a month and 5 Mbps for $400 a month in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

Those are promotional prices that will be good for at least the next six months.

Western Canadian cities will be added if the offering is well accepted, Byers said.

“We do believe we will have significant interest in this product,” he said, without giving sales projections. “That’s why we went to three cities right off the bat.”
Primus’ move to Ethernet over copper follows Vancouver-based Radiant Communications Corp., which began offering its service in October.  Primus will continue to offer its more expensive 1 Gbps service over leased fibre optic lines.

BEX could also be used by enterprises in branch office that don’t need fibre optic service, Byers added.

One of the advantages of using multiple loops is redundancy, he added. With a DSL single loop service there is always a chance a technician will inadvertently pull a plug and cut the connection. With multiple loops if one pair is pulled the customer doesn’t loose service.

Ethernet over copper is another way an ISP can offer high speed services without the high cost of building copper. It can help a provider keep up with fibre optic carriers who can offer increasingly faster speeds.

According to Zhone Technologies, the 802.11ah standard was adopted in 2006 and has been used by carriers for not only for Ethernet services to business but also for cellular backhaul.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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