TDM to IPThe Metro Ethernet Forum’s Ethernet Interconnect Point (EIP) project gained momentum last week when Frontier, CenturyLink and competitive carrier TelePacific said they would participate in the rapid prototyping  portion of the project. The EIP initiative aims to create interconnection points through which Ethernet service providers will establish services that begin and end on different service provider networks. The goal is to enable service providers to establish such connections in a highly automated manner as they do today with TDM connections.

“There are many thousands of TDM meet points in the U.S. today; they are being phased out,” said MEF Director of Certification and Strategic Programs Daniel Bar-Lev in an email exchange with Telecompetitor. “The larger carriers would like to see them replaced in the U.S. by around 100 to 200 EIPs.”

Several large incumbent U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Verizon and Windstream, already have been involved in rapid EIP prototyping, which is taking place at the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory. The EIP initiative was formed in early 2014 by those three carriers and Frontier, but as Bar-Lev noted, it is a global project and EIPs are expected to be established all over the world.

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As MEF Director of Communications and Research Stan Hubbard told Telecompetitor earlier this year, “Carrier Ethernet emerged as the global choice for TDM replacement.” Accordingly, the EIPs are likely to be an important element of the TDM-to-IP transition that carriers are undertaking.

Ethernet Interconnect Points
The MEF’s EIP project is expected to have three phases, explains Dan Blemings, director of Ethernet product management for AT&T, in a video posted on the MEF website. The first phase is to create implementation guidelines – and the group expects to have those guidelines published in the first quarter of 2016, Blemings notes. In the second phase, the group will develop additional use cases and will add more material to the guidelines. In the third phase, the group will focus on multi-carrier automation of EIPs using life-cycle service orchestration.

Bar-Lev said he anticipates that smaller U.S. carriers are likely to want to use the EIP implementation guidelines but that those companies are not likely to want to participate in the development of those guidelines which, among other things, would require them to be MEF members.

“The promotion of use of the EIP Implementation Guidelines will begin in earnest when the first version is published,” Bar-Lev noted. In the meantime, he said MEF is increasing awareness of the EIP project through various activities including the organization’s upcoming GEN15 event.

It was interesting to see competitive carrier TelePacific participating in the EIP initiative, which until now has been the purview of large incumbents. TelePacific has acquired several other competitive carriers including mPower and the broadband wireless unit of Megapath, and has become quite strong in the western U.S. The company may see EIP participation as a means of getting a leg-up in interconnecting with the incumbents.

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