FORT LEE, N.J. A startup formed by a team of carrier specialists from Bell Atlantic is forging a unique strategy for an emerging market: providing services for large, managed multi-tenant properties such as office complexes, hotels and apartment buildings. Everest Broadband Networks Inc. vows to go easy on infrastructure buildout, and to spend equal amounts of time developing services at all seven layers of the Open Systems Interconnect protocol stack.
"We will offer transport services, but we're not a pipes provider. We will host applications, but we're not an ASP [application service provider]," said Joseph Varello, vice president of business development and corporate relations at Everest, based here. "I see the company as an intelligent distribution system" in the new building-based local-exchange carrier (BLEC) market.
Everest begins with a proposition of using fiber only in main trunks and building risers, rarely in work group links for every floor of a building. The company says it will try to keep both its Internet points of presence and its network operation centers distributed, building new nodes only when necessary.
Key to Everest's strategy is a system that interfaces with the external backbone, front-ending a building router and mixing some functions of a digital subscriber line access multiplexer, integrated access device and main distribution frame. Everett calls this system, which links with the WAN, its Intelligent Service Node. The company will not manufacture the system, but intends to seek out a variety of transmission specialists that distribute service mixes to a building as suppliers.
Varello said he has seen two common mistakes made by the crop of startups popping up this year to fill the potentially lucrative niche of delivering all manner of data and telecom services to large building complexes.
First, he said, some of the new service providers are attempting to become experts in lower-layer services ranging from the physical layer to the transport layer, and are also trying to provide bandwidth management through overbuilding of physical capacity. Another group, he said, is little more than ASPs that possess high-layer application management but scant knowledge or control of the physical network topologies of multi-tenant buildings.
Everest founders Rashmi Doshi, who is chief technology officer, and Hamid Modarressi, vice president of network operations, brought with them from Bell Atlantic an intimate understanding of network topologies, combined with a sober realization that overbuilding of physical infrastructure may make broadband services unattractive for building landlords.
Everest had to have a working knowledge of quality-of-service methodologies spanning Internet Protocol, circuit switching and asynchronous transfer mode services to even be considered a bandwidth-management expert. But to avoid customer complaints, the company had to look to higher-layer services such as satellite-based caching, to provide gap-filler means of improving network response.
Varello said that service providers typically go through regular upgrades of system capacity to increase bandwidth, without looking at caching methods. But caching can carry them through the bottlenecks in system performance just before bandwidth upgrades are made, he said. A customer who gets frustrated with slow network response over a long enough time may not stick around for the next capacity upgrade, said Varello.
Because Everest works with both terrestrial and space-based caching companies, the company can offer distributed storage and cached HTTP services, as well as advanced application and content delivery, including streaming and multicast content. Retaining expertise on all seven OSI layers allows Everest to move into markets such as policy enforcement, network monitoring and virtual private network hosting.
Varello said Everest will start with corporate multi-tenant accounts, then expand to hospitality properties, such as hotels most likely "the meeting rooms and convention floor, where multimegabit services are really necessary, instead of the guest rooms." Apartment buildings, condos and the like will be added only as broadband interests justify connectivity above 10 Mbits/second in the home.
Jeff Feldman, chief executive officer of Everest, has linked his company up with several transport-oriented companies, including Elastic Networks Inc. in the DSL market, and Sycamore and Millenium in the optical backbone.