Sprint Canada offers IP to speed Frame Relay moves

Sprint Canada Wednesday launched a portfolio of integrated access services it said would ease the migration of enterprise Frame Relay networks to IP.

The Toronto-based firm said its IP Enabled Solutions are based on technology already

available to Sprint Corp.’s U.S. customers. In place of the multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) technology offered by other carriers, Sprint said its applications would allow businesses to interoperate IP services over disparate networks without spending more money on new equipment.

Greg McCamus, president of Sprint Canada’s enterprise communications solutions unit, said the services are being launched at a pivotal moment in network history, similar to the transition between private line and Frame Relay networks in the mid-’90s.

“”We see it as an important foray for Sprint in allowing us to be much more competitive and aggressive in speaking to the installed base of Frame Relay customers across incumbent territories,”” he said in a teleconference.

Corporations that use Frame Relay networks today have to purchase a second loop for corporate Internet access and have to use their Layer 2 bandwidth for branch locations, said Bruce Robertson, senior manage of Sprint Canada’s data and IP services unit. In contrast, he said Sprint Canada’s service would include “”localized Internet”” from the core of the network, so that every branch that joins would have local access and would eliminate the need to buy a connection at the corporate headquarters.

“”It would also mean no firewall on the customer premises,”” he said. “”You would use a network-based firewall that we would manage for you.””

Elroy Jopling, a senior analyst with Gartner Group Canada, said Sprint Canada has a transnational advantage as it can offer an interconnected link with Sprint in the United States.

“”When they say that they’re the only one it might be stretching reality just a little bit, but at the same time, it’s easier for them,”” he said. “”It’s something that they have an easy relationship with because of the relationship with Sprint Corp. Can Bell Canada do it? Yes, but they have to work with a range of partners. It’s not as seamless and it’s not as easy.””

Although Sprint Canada intends to bring out an MPLS offering later on, McCamus said the reduced migration costs from its IP Enabled Services would satisfy the needs of business customers who are more budget-conscious than ever.

“”This is an offer that uses the intelligence in the network that a lot of people would traditionally either do on site or have to purchase multiple accesses to accomplish,”” he said. “”It’s a way to simplify the implementation and the management of the network.””

Jopling agreed. “”In a case like this you get a product that has been tested and is out there,”” he said. “”Most of the carriers are driving towards the MPLS product offering. This just gives a slightly different flavour, which without question will have places where it’s a good idea.””

Sprint Canada executives said the firm already has at least two customers for its services, but wouldn’t name them. McCamus said he expected adoption to come primarily from the mid-market.

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