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What is Etherflex?

Posted on 2011-03-08
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
One of my clients needs to upgrade their voice/data bandwidth. They currently have two T1s, giving them a max of 3Mbs of voice/data for aprox. 20 users. Sometimes I see around 500Kbs of data via speedtest.

Their current provider - a regional company, is offering an upgrade to 10Mbs with Etherflex:

"The service is called Etherflex and is delivered using multiple circuits which is a huge benefit – If one of the circuits should go down the others would take over and your actual bandwidth wouldn’t be affected.  FIOS, on the other hand, is a single circuit service so if that circuit should go down for any reason your internet and phones would stop working altogether. "

and

"I realize that this is probably higher [cost] than the FIOS offering and there is a reason – It’s a more redundant connection giving you more stability."

I need to figure out if this guy is just blowing smoke to compete with the FiOS offering. The client really likes dealing with the local provider:

"On top of that, as you know, our customer service is very responsive to your needs.  With Verizon you’d unfortunately just be a number to them."

I don't see much on the 'net re: Etherflex, other than it's basically bundled copper.

Any thoughts or experience?

Thanks!
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Question by:Rick Nicholson
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7 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:mrlakeside
ID: 35079570
Ether-Flex is a technology term used by Motorolla.  

Basically its Motorolla's technology for deliverying tiered data.  Some cable providers use the Motorrolla BSR 6400 Edge router for their depolyments.  

http://www.motorola.com/Video-Solutions/US-EN/Products-and-Services/Broadband-Access/CMTS/BSR_64000_US-EN

You can add different Ether-flex cards to this router

http://www.motorola.com/staticfiles/Video-Solutions/Products/Cable%20Broadband/EDGE%20Routers/aud_id_157204127105/_Documents/Static%20Files/EtherFlexdatasheet_New.pdf

So without knowing the exact details of what your isp is trying to sell you I just think that they are using Motorolla products on the back end.
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Author Comment

by:Rick Nicholson
ID: 35079598
Hi mrlakeside,

Thanks for your response but this is not a cable provider - they're relying on the existing copper connections to this location.

Just trying to figure out if this is a reliable - truly "redundant" option.

Rick
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:JRSCGI
ID: 35084623
It depends on what you define as redundant.  
Etherflex may also be a marketing term, but as the local telco defines it, they are bundling DSL style bandwidth over multiple copper pairs to get to the speeds offered.  Some places refer to this as Ethernet over Copper.  
There are still single point of failure with Etherflex.  The equipment the lines terminate in on either side can go down for various reasons.  The one place there is redundancy is with the copper pairs, if one were to go bad one specific line card went bad, the others will still carry some of the load.  However, a dig up of a cable or a problem in a vault would just as like affect all pair - and how often does that happen, anyway?  
Fiber is more reliable, but either service is only as good as the terminating electronics on both ends the the people tending to them.  More service goes down due to human error than anything else.  Etherflex will not protect you from that any better than fiber.
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Author Comment

by:Rick Nicholson
ID: 35085742
Thanks, JRSCGI,

That's the kind of info I was looking for.

I don't have alot of experience with this - are you implying that a "dig up of a cable or a problem in a vault" is likely or not? This is in an older residential neighborhood that has been converted to offices. My impression is that the infrastructure is pretty old...

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Accepted Solution

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JRSCGI earned 1000 total points
ID: 35088563
if that is the case, you are more likely to have problems with the copper cabling than fiber cable - because the fiber will be newer and not damaged by weather and age the way copper can be.  Dig up and vault problems are actually pretty rare.
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LVL 1

Author Closing Comment

by:Rick Nicholson
ID: 35089289
Thanks JRSCGI,

I'm leaning towards the fiber, but I'm just the consultant. I'm afraid the client will make a decision based on loyalty to the local provider, rather than reliability. (And a reluctance to avoid going with big, bad Verizon!)

Best wishes,
Rick
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:JRSCGI
ID: 35089468
Ethernet over copper is not a bad thing and is a good improvement over the current.  I am not a big fan of Verizon, either.  Good luck.
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