Managed Services

Which providers offer managed Ethernet access services?

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In this article, we list 5 managed Ethernet access service providers together with their respective products and capabilities. Layer 2 Ethernet is available across multiple access methods with dedicated speeds from 100Mbps & 1Gbps circuits to 10Gbps VLL (Virtual Private Line) pseudowires and Metro Ethernet short haul. Within the Ethernet portfolio of products, managed WAN services often adopt layer 2 LAN elements to provide an overall management wrap across all hybrid access options.

Which providers offer managed Ethernet services?

Click the link to learn more about each provider within the table. Using the table, learn which options exist for your business across potential managed service providers.

MSP Ethernet Provider BT Partner Sales Masergy Cogent Expereo GTT
Type Tier 1 carrier Tier 1 carrier Tier 1 carrier Tier 3 carrier Tier 1 carrier
Data services Broadband, DIA, MPLS, Point to point, Private line, SD WAN, VPLS, SD WAN 5G, Broadband, DIA, Fixed wireless, MPLS, Point to point, SD WAN DIA, Point to point, Private line, SD WAN, VPLS 5G, Broadband, DIA, SD WAN, VPLS Broadband, DIA, Fixed wireless, 4G, Point to point, Satellite, SD WAN, VPLS
Differentiators Fully managed, complete UK and global network with UK metro coverage Comprehensive managed security in addition to metro area networks Fast delivery of on-net Ethernet circuits 300+ country coverage with 3000+ last miles across Internet Strong global coverage across voice and data, strong with large bandwidth
Year established 1969 2000 1999 2004 1998
Key acquisitions EE Broadcore, Global Datagurard PSINet, NetRail N/A Access Point, Interoute, MDNX, Easynet
Areas of strength 197+ countries, UK, Europe, US Global, 100+ countries, 300+ last mile Europe Totally global, 200+ countries Totally global, 200+ countries

BT Business Partner Sales

BT Logo 480 Premier Partner-1

BT offer significant capability within their managed Ethernet services portfolio which includes dedicated metro fibre (SHDS), VLL, VPLS and Optical Connect. The BT network offers coverage across UK metropolitan areas in addition to regional connectivity. VLL and VPLS both offer the ability to interconnect Global sites and data centre locations at layer 2.

Netify services for BT are outlined here.


Masergy Logo

Masergy connectivity is offered to meet the demands of Global connectivity via layer 2 VPLS and layer 3 MPLS, both offered as a managed service. The Masergy network is not known for metro area coverage but for international managed reach, their core network is well scaled offering excellent performance. Managed service customers are well served with a Net Promotor score of 71.


Cogent MPLS Logo

Cogent on-net connectivity is offered with an industry leading SLA for delivery (17 business days) with strong presence in European locations. Network coverage includes data centre presence across the globe with managed layer 2 offerings via metro, VLL and VPLS products.


Expereo Logo

Today, Expereo is known for providing internet access and SD-WAN aggregation to 200+ countries globally with single billing, currency, contract, and managed services support. Expereo are the largest network aggregator on a global basis with layer 2 managed VPLS to deliver truly low cost Global Ethernet. It is worth knowing that metro connectivity is not the strength of Expereo.



GTT occupies the Fortune Future 50 company rankings with their own global Tier 1 network offering VPLS and metro products within the majority of countries. The global IP network spans 550 PoPs worldwide with 2,500+ local access providers for diverse, secure global access to VPLS and VLL managed products.

Can you buy metro Ethernet short-haul data services as managed access?

The typical short-haul metro Ethernet service is sold as wires only point to point and multipoint access. In many networks, SHDS circuits form an element of of managed WAN architecture - however, they are typically/traditionally procured as wires-only Ethernet delivery. While the circuits are monitored for up/down status, the connectivity is delivered in much the same way as typical Ethernet connections found on the LAN.

Any Ethernet access transmission device delivered to the comms room (required for product delivery) is managed in respect of replacement hardware should any issues occur. In addition, managed LAN services may include metro Ethernet circuits with ethernet switches/hardware port monitoring and configuration over and above the transmission circuit equipment.

The devices and ports are added within managed WAN NOC software which indicates when issues occur across latency, jitter and uptime. Ethernet short-haul (metro Ethernet) circuits are typically available within a 25km reach from any network provider operating fibre area networks, typically telco service providers.

Is VPLS provided with managed services?

VPLS (Virtual Private LAN Service) connectivity services are the layer 2 equivalent of layer 3 VPRn (Virtual Private Routed Network) or more commonly, MPLS VPN. In order to provide Ethernet circuits over greater distances vs metro area short-haul, VPLS emulates point to point and multipoint circuits. The emulation of metro circuits is commonly referred to a pseudowire emulation.

While VPLS does extend the reach on a global basis, the latency and jitter is not comparable when compared to an actual dedicated private circuit. This is because traffic is not sent end to end over dedicated infrastructure, instead, traffic is transported across a shared network. With sharing in mind, VPLS is not viewed as totally secure when compared to dedicated Ethernet fibre solution such as SHDS.

One of the reasons businesses opt for VPLS vs MPLS is to control their own layer 3 routed network, i.e. self manage wires only circuits via routers rather than managed switches. There are other reasons why layer 2 VPLS is deployed, to interconnect data centre facilities or any locations which have a requirement to use the same LAN.

VPLS often forms a component of hybrid networking within an overall managed WAN capability. The majority of providers offer managed VPLS Ethernet services with other services such as SD WAN or fully managed MPLS.

Managed Ethernet Access 1

What is the use case for Managed Ethernet access?

The majority of Ethernet services are used to meet the needs of a specific project or as a component of hybrid WAN architecture. We typically see VLL WAN connectivity used to interconnect data centre locations on a UK or Global basis. Using managed VPLS means that, regardless of your WAN connectivity (i.e. layer 2 or layer 3), the management wrap results in a consistent level of support to your business with the added benefits of change requests, reporting with bandwidth and application performance statistics / proactive notification when issues occur.

What coverage is available with Managed Ethernet?

When considering options, certain Ethernet WAN providers will offer global reach for International requirements. There is a need to examine where PoPs (Point of Presence) are located to be sure the global coverage does not require extensive tail circuit provision. With SHDS metro circuits, there will be certain city locations which offer more on-net coverage depending on each provider. Metro and VPLS Ethernet services are typically covered with latency and uptime guarantees, even in an unmanaged environment. Adding managed services can improve upon SLA figures and monitoring to further improve standard guarantees.

What options exist for load balancing?

Load balancing is delivered as per session or per packet depending on the level of diversity provisioned across your circuits. Adding load balancing capability can be delivered by a managed service provider based on requirements. Where full diversity is provisioned, per-packet load balancing is not recommended - the selected managed service provider will normally adopt per session based on analysis of applications.

Does managed Ethernet include security?

SDHS metro Ethernet provides dedicated fibre between your offices and therefore is viewed as being particularly secure. In fact, depending on the provider, some solutions are delivered with CESG to Impact level 2.2.4 which offers assurance to those organisations with a need to implement connectivity to this level of security. VPLS is viewed in the same way as MPLS with respect to security, ie. a private based WAN infrastructure requiring no additional encryption. We do see managed VPLS with additional Firewall services where the requirement is to further increase security or IPSec encryption of traffic to overlay additional privacy.

Managed Ethernet Access 2

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