Not the Delia Smith Winter collection


Winter is a wonderful time of year. Many folk would disagree - the long, dark nights, going to work in the dark, returning home in the dark, the rain. But this is all superficial stuff. Autumn sees wonderfully warm earth tones, set against a crisp, clear, sharp blue sky. Frost, sprinkled like magic dust, glitters and sparkles in early morning sunlight. Steamy breath, eyes watering from a biting wind, moody misty mornings, and Blencathra is at its most vivid beauty.

The telecoms winter continues to freeze many businesses, some hibernating for the duration in a thick protective Chapter 11 coat. For many this first cold season in telecoms has proved too much and they have left forever, others may return when the climate warms again. Neos has prepared a special network recipe, ideally suited to the current cold climate. We'd like to share it with you and perhaps by so doing can spread a little summer sunshine into the cold.

The great thing about this recipe is that, whilst its full of goodness and great performance, it's very much for the service provider on a "cap-ex lite" diet. The "full cap-ex" recipes of the 90's with their bloated, inefficient and expensive networks have been totally displaced by this new style of healthy network. Older service providers may struggle to convert. 

Everyone in my family that's tried this says this is ace.

Detailed recipe for Optical Ethernet Network with a picquant Liquid Bandwidth sauce

Serves thousands as a metro starter or millions as a main national network.

  • Fibre fresh from the market @ 7p in the pound
  • Layer 2 Ethernet switches, 1 per POP
  • Long Haul GigE cards
  • A DWDM platform
  • Zest of MPLS

For the tail circuits:

  • Optical LES circuits
  • Full Code Powers to dig fibre
  • Microwave
  • SDSL

You will also need a web interface for customers to upgrade their bandwidth, and a number of partners to provide cost effective network reach.

Begin by finding the best POPs in the country. It's a good idea to prepare this using a GIS such as Mapinfo so that you can reach the maximum number of businesses with the minimum number of POPs. Negotiate the best terms you can for POP space and ensure that there are plenty of other carriers sharing the premises so that there is commercial resilience to reassure your customers. Use the fibre at bargain basement prices to connect the POPs.

Within each national POP, link the fibres with the DWDM platform. To ensure the network is as de-layered as possible, use the Long Haul GigE cards from the DWDM platform so that you don't need an expensive legacy technology which will sour your service. 

Connect the Layer 2 Ethernet switches to the DWDM platform. 

In the Metro link the POPs using the optical GigE cards in the Layer 2 Ethernet switches. Use the zest of MPLS to add network performance and resilience.

Now is the time to work with the partners you've found to extend your network. Both gas and electric utilities are good for this recipe, you can also use water as necessary. 

Repeat the steps above in their network POPs, and use their fibres that have already been prepared for connectivity. This will allow you to reach at least 90% of the business community in the UK with operating costs an order of magnitude less than other service providers on an unhealthy "build it all themselves" diet. These cost savings can be passed on to your customers. Which I think is super.

If done properly, this network will have latencies of less than 10ms on the national section, even less in the metro. You will find that it can support valuable business applications such as a variety of spicy Storage options or VOIP velouté.

Liquidise the bandwidth by having your website built with a bandwidth dial that your customers can use to upgrade their Ethernet bandwidth in increments as small as 1Mb/s if necessary. It's important to serve the additional bandwidth within 48 hours otherwise it will spoil their business applications.

To reach your customers you can use tail circuits with a variety of flavours. I find that LES circuits are the most popular but for a quick connection you can use a microwave. Ethernet over copper using SDSL is becoming a popular choice. 

Serve with a garnish of SLA that guarantees maximum latency of 10ms, availability of 99.95%, and money back guarantees. 

Parmesan is optional.


First published in 2002 when I was Marketing Director for Neos Networks