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Multiple Topics - Fiber Routes, Diversity, and Sprint's name, and SONET
From: Kent Dallas <KDallas () gridnet com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 16:04:18 -0400

This message contributes to the various strands of the thread created by
"BOOM! there goes WorldCom".  No Internic/DNS musings here.

*** CONTENT RATINGS (on a 10 point scale)

Operational Issues      3
DNS/Bind Issues 0

1)      Fiber Routes

Essentially, there are four (soon to be five) nationwide fiber networks. 
Sprint built (or at least started) first, building fiber routes mostly along
Southern Pacific RR right-of-way.  In the process of their build, Microwave
Communications Incorporated (MCI) and AT&T decided they better do the same. 
Shortly after Sprint was in progress, the communications division of the
Williams Cos. (WilTel) had the brilliant idea to run fiber in abandoned
oil/gas pipelines (no, they did not run fiber down ACTIVE oil/gas
pipelines).  Williams Co eventually sold (some or most?) of this asset to
LDDS (and along with other acquisitions), now known as WorldCom, Inc.

All of these players buy/sell/swap this fiber capacity between each other.

Recently, there has been a bit of a bandwidth crunch (I hope I don't have to
explain why to the folks on this list).  Folks like Frontier had a little
trouble finding the necessary bandwidth to fuel their facilities-based long
distance business growth.  Fed up with the limited supply and rising prices
(ECON 101), Qwest saw an opportunity to "build" versus buy.  They are
proceeding to build the "fifth" nationwide fiber network.

Underlying any company who advertises their "own" nationwide network, sits
at least one of these providers.

2)      Route Diversity

Each of these carriers (or at least the first four) offer route diversity,
for a premium price.  If you order two circuits between the same locations,
you may get lucky and have them provisioned across separate fiber routes. 
You can check this with the DLR.  However, if you did not PAY for route
diversity, the carrier may very well groom them at a later time into the
same fiber path.

Ocassionally, folks will pay for route diversity, and yet the carrier STILL
grooms their circuits onto the same path (operations error, poor systems, or
just plain bad faith).  If you pay for diversity, and don't get it, THEN you
have something to complain about (and a pretty good basis for credits, at
least).  Otherwise, network grooms are SOP for IXC network facilities

Buying from two different carriers doesn't assure diversity, either.  The
second carrier may provision your service over the first carrier's
facilities.  Or, both carriers may share the conduit for their fiber run.

When a carrier provisions your service over another carrier's facilities,
there are likely to be coordination problems.  How and if these issues get
resolved is beyond me.

3)      Sprint's name

The Sprint we know today was basically created by the 50/50 joint venture
between United Telecom and GTE, the two largest independent local telephone
companies.  United Telecom owned US Telecom, their long distance division. 
GTE had recently bought a low-cost long distance company from SP
Communications, with which they formed GTE Sprint.  The merger of these two
groups formed US Sprint.  Later, United bought another 30% of the joint
venture, and later again, bought the whole company from GTE (which seems
funny now, since it looks like GTE will be having to buy its way into the
long distance business, again).  Once United owned the whole company, United
dropped the "US" of US Sprint, and renamed the entire corporation, Sprint
(which is why all the local United Telephone companies are now Sprint).

4)      SONET

It is true that SONET technology provides the capability for protection from
fiber cuts, with automatic reroutes along SONET loops.  In order to
accomplish this, a carrier would have to keep 50% of their available
bandwidth on "hot standby".  Because of the limited bandwidth supply/rising
prices, carriers find this a bit difficult to justify economically (how many
of you have 100% redundant facilities, and make money?).

If your carrier sells you on the automatic service restoration qualities of
their SONET deployment, you better get it in writing, and not just accept
what the sales person tells you.  That way, when your DS3 goes down, you'll
at least have a bargaining position.   The circuits that do reroute are
priority circuits, and unless you are the federal government or Fortune 50,
you are not likely priority.

Happy packet passing,

Kent Dallas                                 GridNet International
Pricing Manager                         http://www.gridnet.com
770.998.9096.fax                  "Don't be a crash dummy on the
kdallas () gridnet com                  information superhighway"

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