Bell to spend $200M on Cisco gear for IP network

Bell Canada and Cisco Systems of Canada announced Monday they will partner to build a national IP network integrating data, voice and video services.

Bell Canada will invest $200 million in

Cisco core infrastructure technology over the next three years, Isabelle Courville, president, enterprise group, Montreal-based Bell Canada said in a teleconference. The agreement will allow the two companies to expand Bell Canada’s national IP/MPLS footprint using Cisco infrastructure, align engineering, marketing and sales forces to help migrate to the new network customers using existing communications networks like ATM and Frame Relay.

The parnters will also create and commercialize managed network services and value-added solutions such as IP telephony and wireless LAN, Courville said.

“”As networks have become increasingly dynamic and mission-critical, they have also become more complex,”” explained Terry Walsh, president of Cisco Systems Canada in Toronto.

“”And as a result, business customers in Canada and around the world are telling us they need simplified and integrated communications services. Solving this problem is ultimately what this Bell-Cisco alliance is all about.””

As Bell and Cisco create this national IP network, they will jointly develop with customers their migration plans to the new system, but enterprise customers who want to stay for the moment with their own legacy connections can do so, Courville said.

Bell Canada said it hopes the deal, “”the last piece of a big puzzle,”” will enable it to take another step in its evolution into a leading Internet Protocol-based communications company.

Before Christmas, it had anounced plans with Nortel Networks to move its network infrastructure onto an optical transport infrastructure in a two-year deal valued at $170 million. As part of the agreement, Bell Canada and Nortel will also create an Optical Innovation Centre in Montreal to accelerate the deployment of new IP-oriented optical solutions. It is expected to open in the first quarter of 2004.

Last September, Bell partnered with Nortel on a hosted IP application that will run on the Cisco-IP/MPLS network and on the transport network. It pledged to invest $200 million over three years in Nortel technology to offer new services to large enterprise customers, and eventually expand this new infrastructure to allow the delivery of next-generation services to small and medium business customers.

By 2006, 100 per cent of Bell Canada’s core network will be IP-based but the size of the investment needed to reach this goal will remain undisclosed, said Courville.

Cisco said the prospects for the IP services market provides a compelling opportunity for Bell and Cisco. “”IP VPN services is the fastest-growing category of the $5.5 billion Canadian data communications market, growing three times faster than the rest of the market,”” he explained. In fact this sector will grow annually by 30 per cent, according to IDC Canada,”” he said.


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