Vanco is to provide a new wide-area Ethernet offering that offers IT managers a quick and relatively inexpensive way for enterprises to connect remote sites over high-speed links.

The company's Ethernet Engaged service works on a simple premise: don't build, but buy, according to Ciaran Roche, lead technical consultant at Vanco. The company purchases wide-area Ethernet services from domestic operators, which have put fibre in the ground and deployed an Ethernet layer on top, and connects these domestic services to provide enterprises with an Ethernet connection wherever they need it - together with a single point of contact, SLA and single bill, he said.

"The Ethernet business is a bit like the DSL business where the infrastructure is largely controlled by local asset-based carriers," Roche said. "For global enterprises, that means looking around for wide-area Ethernet services in each of their local markets. With our offering, we aim to take away the pain these companies having in finding and managing these connections."

Enterprises are becoming increasingly interested in wide-area Ethernet because they can use existing, relatively inexpensive LAN infrastructure and their IT staff is familiar with it, according to Roche.

In addition, wide-area Ethernet eliminates the need to convert to frame relay or ATM protocols - what some IT managers refer to as "the garbage in the middle."

Roche believes Ethernet Engaged will be used primarily by enterprises that need to connect large offices and data centres, where the amount of traffic carried over the link makes it unsuitable for MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching), as port charges can be extremely high at larger sites.

Vanco works with more than 100 service providers worldwide, none of which have special status, according to Roche. "Our big benefit is that we're completely neutral," he said. "We pick and choose among the best offerings."

Prices for local wide-area Ethernet services vary according to country, according to Roche. "Some countries have a very competitive market for wide-area Ethernet while others don't," he said. "But we don't make our money on infrastructure; we make it on managing the underlying network pieces and providing a one-stop-service."