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Start-up Gemplex kicks off IP VPN offerings

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VIENNA,VA. - Gemplex is set to launch IP VPN services this week that will let users set up secure IP networks in 37 countries.

The start-up service provider is targeting small and midsize businesses that it says are underserved by the large multinational service providers such as Equant, Infonet and WorldCom.

"We're talking about businesses that bring in $200 million and $500 million in annual revenue and have five to 50 dedicated sites," says Hemant Kanakia, Gemplex founder and CEO.

Although Gemplex has only been around 18 months, the company is launching its initial IP VPN services in 530 cities. The suite of services includes Private IP VPN, Flexible IP VPN and Mobile IP VPN offerings. The company can offer these services in so many cities because it is not deploying its own fiber or building its own physical points of presence.

Instead, Gemplex is leasing network capacity from international service providers such as Global Crossing to connect its network operating center in Virginia with its leased POPs around the globe. Gemplex also is collocating its switching gear and teaming with local carriers around the world to establish POPs.

"This is a tough market for service providers these days," says Jeff Phillips, director of consulting at TeleChoice. Gemplex's business model may prove successful if it can get enough customers on its network and manage its partners, he says.

But teaming up with other service providers is risky. The majority of Gemplex's international fiber is leased from Global Crossing, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January and has been under Securities and Exchange Commission scrutiny.

"Within the next 30 days we will have migrated the majority of our traffic to another provider's network," Kanakia says. While Gemplex says service quality has not suffered, it is making the switch to ensure service continuity.

Phillips says that while Global Crossing and other large fiber-rich carriers are having financial trouble, there are typically no problems with their networks.

Gemplex has deployed Juniper M20-series switches that support Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) within local switching facilities of carriers around the globe. Gemplex connects its switches via its global leased network, which is managed and monitored from the company's network operating center.

The company says it avoids teaming with incumbent local carriers and instead teams with competitive local service providers and ISPs that also sell Gemplex's IP VPN services locally.

The company's Private IP VPN service is a fully managed dedicated, network-based offer. Customers connect to Gemplex's network via dedicated T-1, E-1 or T-3 lines. Customers are not required to use a specific vendor's router at their customer premises to connect to the service because all the smarts and traffic prioritization are supported within the network, Kanakia says.

Gemplex says its service is an alternative to frame relay for small and midsize businesses that may find frame too expensive. "Our service, supporting a 30-site VPN, is about 50% cheaper than a fully meshed frame relay network," Kanakia says.

Private IP VPN service comes with a standard service-level agreement (SLA) that guarantees round-trip latency will not exceed 60 msec in the U.S., 25 msec in Europe, 120 msec in Asia and 70 msec for trans-Atlantic traffic. Gemplex also guarantees 99.99% network availability and minimum packet loss that varies depending on country. Customers in the U.S. are guaranteed packet loss will not exceed 1%, while customers in India are guaranteed packet loss will not exceed 3%.

PROFILE: GEMPLEX
Location: Vienna, Va.
Founded: 2000
Business: IP VPN services in 37 countries, 500 cities.
Management: Hemant Kanakia, CEO and chairman; Gian Dilawari, COO.
Financing: $28 million from Canaan Partners, Invesco.
Competitors: Equant, Teleglobe, Infonet, AT&T, WorldCom.
Target Customers: Small and midsize business users.

Gemplex's Flexible IP VPN is a CPE-based service that lets customers use the Internet to connect to Gemplex's network. This service uses IP Security (IPSec) tunneling between the user's router and Gemplex's Juniper box for secure connectivity over the Internet. Flexible IP VPN service also has a standard SLA that guarantees round-trip latency will not exceed 85 msec in the U.S., 50 msec in Europe, 145 msec in Asia and 95 msec for trans-Atlantic traffic. The same minimum packet loss guarantee applies, but the network availability guarantee does not because users will connect to Gemplex's network via a third-party ISP.

Mobile IP VPN lets remote users connect to Gemplex's network using a Cisco software client deployed on individual PCs. This client establishes an IPSec tunnel between the user and Gemplex's network. This service does not come with a standard SLA.

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Contact Senior Editor Denise Pappalardo

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