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Managing Editor

Verizon to complete MCI network integration in Q3

Mar 23, 20065 mins

All of Verizon's long-distance voice traffic will be brought onto the MCI network by the third quarter.

LAS VEGAS – Verizon will complete most of the integration of its local and MCI long-distance networks by the third quarter, says the network operations chief of Verizon Business, the renamed MCI.

The carrier is building a “dual rail” ultra long haul network to integrate the backbones of both networks, says Fred Briggs, executive vice president of network operations and technology for Verizon Business. This build will add “several more thousand” route miles to the more than 20,000 route miles of the current backbone network, Briggs said during an interview at the TelecomNext conference.

“It’s a straightforward integration,” Briggs said. “This is a vertical integration of really very complementary companies.”

All of Verizon’s long-distance voice traffic, which ran through various third-party networks, will be brought onto the MCI network by the third quarter. That will grow traffic on the MCI backbone by over 30% this year, Briggs said.

“We’re going to add five new softswitches and a million ports to handle that traffic,” he said, adding that 15% of that traffic has already moved over. VoIP capacity will triple this year, and by year-end 20% to 25% of Verizon’s voice traffic will originate as VoIP – not just IP trunked, Briggs said.

Verizon’s IP network will add 40% more traffic to the MCI IP infrastructure, Briggs said. Verizon Business will be adding capacity to its IP backbone to handle that, he said.

On the local level, Verizon naturally had “massive scale” compared to MCI’s local presence. So Verizon Business will decommission the MCI switches in the local franchise and move those services onto Verizon switches, Briggs said.

“That’s the only thing that will not be done this year,” he said. “That will take us a couple of years to do. But again, very straightforward.”

The only customer disruption will occur when Verizon decommissions its MPLS network and moves customer traffic onto the Verizon Business – MCI – Private IP MPLS network, Briggs said. The maintenance window will be “very short,” he said, and the decommissioned Verizon MPLS network assets will be redeployed worldwide.

Frame and ATM data networks will simply be interconnected through network-to-network interfaces, Briggs said.

Briggs is “linked at the hip” with Verizon CTO Mark Wegleitner to facilitate the network integration, he said. Wegleitner works on longer term projects stretching out three or more years, and maintains responsibility for engineering the local network. Briggs handles long-distance and out-of-franchise local engineering.

Wegleitner concurs that the integration work is proceeding smoothly.

“One of the early successes was switched Ethernet access from Verizon Telecom (the local business) as an access technology for the Private IP service in Verizon Business,” he says. “We would expect to see a lot more of that cooperative networking.”

Other projects for the combined carrier include replacing its TDM digital cross connect (DACS) architecture with Ethernet switching. This will provide a more efficient way to provision Ethernet services in real-time, Briggs said.

He envisions full scale deployment in 2007. It will augment the carrier’s Converged Packet Access (CPA) edge architecture, which is designed to support multiple services from frame relay, IP VPN to Ethernet.

“The vendors are just coming out with the boxes that will provide the Layer 2 switching in the carrier grade that we need,” Briggs said.

Some vendors are coming out with hybrid Ethernet/TDM switches to facilitate the transition from DACS to Ethernet, he said. These systems will provide Ethernet access to the customer while slowly weaning the carrier off of the DACS infrastructure.

“That’s the real key, and that will be a long term project,” Briggs said.

And considering the vast installed base of DACS gear in virtually every carrier network around the world, the transition will be dramatic.

“This is a real decision point in the industry,” Briggs said. “This is a real sea change.”

Verizon is also looking to converge its three IP networks – Private IP, public IP and vBNS – into one common IP core. The carrier has had an RFP out on this project “for a while” and received responses in mid- and late-2005, Briggs said, but so far, the major router vendors have not delivered the goods.

“The converged router that we want to use is still not available in the marketplace,” Briggs said. “There’s just a couple of fundamental things, like hitless failover on a major load just are not available today. I’m hoping that we’ll see at least a couple of the guys deliver probably next year. I want to have those kinds of capabilities available as we build the next generation IP core.”

Verizon also issued an RFP for an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture at the end of February. The carrier will field responses in mid- to late-April, and select vendors this summer, Brigg said.

“People ask, ‘Where are you going to spend your money?’ Ultra long haul; converged IP core; and Ethernet with CPA and Layer 2 switching as access,” Briggs said. “That’s where the significant strategic dollars are going to flow and that’s where whoever gets there first with the capability and the price point generally does pretty well.

“It’s going to be an exciting time,” he said.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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