BT readies post-Concert IP VPN services

ITworld.com |  Networking

Now that it is in the final stages of unwinding its Concert joint venture with AT&T Corp., U.K. telecommunication operator British Telecommunications PLC (BT) is getting ready for a renewed push for its IP (Internet protocol) VPN (virtual private network) managed services through its BT Ignite division.

Specifically, the company is looking to roll out additional VPN services based on technologies such as IPsec (Internet Protocol Security), MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) and CoS (Class of Service), as a way to prioritize and manage traffic in a network, said Steve Brady, vice president of data & IP services for BT Ignite at a news briefing Wednesday.

"We expect Concert to be fully dissolved by the end of the first quarter of this year, though of course, I can't make any firm promises about that in blood. But once that is done, we will use the Concert capabilities we will inherit to bring IP VPN services to 30 countries across Europe, with AT&T continuing to be one of our biggest customers," Brady said.

Last October, BT and AT&T agreed to disband their loss-making Concert joint venture and return the assets to the parent companies.

BT Ignite offers a variety of IP services to corporate and wholesale customers throughout Europe, with customers including American Express Co., McDonald's Corp. and Visa International Inc., and is looking to become more of a presence in Europe now that it is freeing itself from Concert, Brady said.

"We already have between 800 and 700 IP VPN customers in the U.K. alone. We have found IP VPN to be one of the most buoyant markets we've seen in a long time. In fact, demands in the last nine months are the strongest we've seen for any IP product in the last six years," Brady said.

A VPN is a private network that uses the Internet to send secure, encrypted packets of data and allows access to a corporate network as if the user were on a LAN.

Mark Jaffe, ICT (information and communication technology) and quality manager for Concorde Logistics Ltd., decided to hire BT Ignite about two years ago after having first looked at the IP VPN offerings from Equant NV and Global Crossing Ltd. (which since July have merged).

Concorde Logistics stores and supplies parts for technical equipment and medical equipment throughout the U.K. and because its engineers have a two- to four-hour response time from when a customer sends a request over e-mail to delivery, working over a dial-up connection wasn't fast enough for the company, Jaffe said.

"We started looking at IP VPNs around October 1999 because we needed to get the spare parts out to the engineers faster. We decided to go with BT because of the pricing plan and the ease of the fully managed network infrastructure," Jaffe said.

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