can you share your experience on AT&T ASE?

I am in the process of initiating a very big project based on AT&T Switched Ethernet on the WAN. Many sites will be involved in the Metro Area and I would like to know other users that have already had good or bad experiences on that technology, mainly on its reliability an availability, since we are running business CRITICAL applications on the network.
The project will involve more that 10 sites on a single LATA, so I'd like to know if you've experienced regional faults and how often they happen.
Any other feedback will be of great help.
Bianco SamsungAsked:
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It will be important to get a full sales staff that cares about your project.  Most important is your technical SE.  He/she can make up for a bad sales rep.  Make sure the regional sales manager sits in from the beginning. We had to demand a face-to-face to mop up a bad team dynamic.  Fix it before the project gets underway.

Get full build iut estimates in advance.  Border areas between AT&T and Verizon will cost you ~100K+ just to trench around the corner (literally one building away) into the other's territory.  ASE cannot be run on leased fiber.  It must be AT&T-owned fiber...and the two telcos make sure the tresspassing fee is over a quarter million...then discount it to $125K.

Make surr every order is specified multi-point.  Verify it many times, to the point of ridiculuousness.  We had two sites setup as isolated point-to-point...unable to communicate with the other sites.  No reason for it.  Just, oops.  It's the customer's fault for _not_ yelling at AT&T enough to stay in scope.

If you are replacing Opt-E-MAN...AT&T will try to blame you for any problems.  They won't want to spend any time troubleshooting until your entire WAN is 100% ASE.  We have a holdout site that is not being upgraded.  The extra hop over Opteman is blamed as our fault for not being 100% ASE rnd-to-end.

You will be responsible for CoS/QoS.  Watch your CIR and ratio of real-time traffic allowed.  If your engineers don't have the experience, be prepared to hire it out.  AT&T's NOC will tell you flatly that they will not triubleshoot with you until you take care of CoS.  Opteman was just hand it off and make best effort, so ironically easier to manage.

Latency on ASE is great.  1-2ms between most sites.  2-4 on the farthest sites.   iPerf tests can load the circuits pretty close to CIR.  95Mbps on a 100Mb line.  480+ on a half-gig.  950+ on a gig circuit, using a standard TCP 10-second test.

We have VoIP phones at one site connecting to Cisco UC at a different location.  Haven't any noticeable difference berween the LAN-connected ans WAN-connected units.  Small deployment...less than 300 phones.  But better than internet-connected.

There is a sub-256 MAC address table in a multipoint virtual switch.  We have a single VLAN with 1-3 IP addresses at each site.  Either a single router (1 IP address), or a virtual IP address for redundundant core switches (3 IP addresses).

For ease if testing, we made the VLAN a /24 subnet so that each site could drop a server/desktop/laptop into the subnet and do iPerf and file transfer tests directly from the VLAN, not by an extra hop through a WAN router.

Try to avoid hard deadlines.  Site-specific problems like street/vault access or scheduling problems can cause unavoidable delays.  Make sure your billing amd turn-on dates are fair.  Don't pay if the circuit is not tested and accepted by you.

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Oh...and do your site walk-throughs with the AT&T field reps _and_ an installation superviser.  One site survey dinged us for sub-standard path to MPOE.  We had to run new conduit with innerduct and rope.

The install team showed up and asked why we didn't use the existing duct.

It was an AT&T building that we had bought.  The "sub-standard" infrastructure was their own in-house cabling in their own building.

It was an extra couple of grand...but at least we have a verified continuous run to the MPOE now.

If you need delivery to a datacenter or IDF, get it in writing that AT&T will hand-off at that location.  Otherwise, they costs will be on you.  And AT&T will only pull exactly the number of strands necessary for the circuits you're installing.  No 6- or 12-pair fiber trunks for future expansion.  They will install a 1- or 2-pair cable that fills the innerduct, making it unusable for future pulls.

If you are getting DIA from AT&T or delivered on AT&T ASE, make sure they pull enough fiber the first time.  You don't want downtime for them to remove a single-pair and replace it with a 2-pair _after_  you are already in production.
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