• United States

What’s inside AT&T’s IP bag of tricks?

Jan 14, 20043 mins

* AT&T broadens IP services

AT&T tries to differentiate itself from other top-tier ISPs by the sheer breadth of its IP services. You name a buzzword – from Wi-Fi to VPNs to VOIP – and AT&T has a related product announced. Though its product portfolio can seem confusing to industry watchers, AT&T’s goal is to provide one-stop shopping for enterprise data networking needs.

“We support everything from basic IP transport through VPNs through security through management of transactions and the performance of transactions over IP,” says Mike Jenner, vice president of global IP services for AT&T. “A differentiator for us is the breadth of our IP services and our ability to manage the transaction for a customer from end to end.”

Take Wi-Fi. Last fall, AT&T began offering remote wireless access to its IP VPN services from more than 2,000 Wi-Fi access points in 20 countries. AT&T provides this wireless LAN access service through GRIC Communications of Milipitas, Calif.

Wi-FI is “an important access technology, particularly for remote access,” Jenner says.

AT&T supports a range of VPN technologies, including IPSec, a standard encryption technique, and Secure Sockets Layer, a Web security technique that is useful for distributed applications. AT&T also offers network-based VPNs that take advantage of MPLS.

For 2004, AT&T will be rolling out more business-class services related to VoIP. AT&T has offered voice services over IP since 1997. Recently, AT&T introduced what it claims is the first VoIP-specific service level agreement that guarantees voice quality.

“VoIP is very important,” Jenner says. “The VoIP area is where a lot of our customers are focusing their attention right now. We think we have industry-leading services.”

AT&T also offers professional services designed to help U.S. multinational corporations design next-generation networks. Corporate networks are increasingly complex, with multiple technologies, protocols and applications that need support.

“More of our customers are coming to us during the design phase to sort out their complex set of requirements, such as how do I serve my CRM applications and have Internet access,” Jenner says. “What’s unique to us is the depth of the professional services and the breadth of the professional services that we offer. And that we can offer services both pre-sale and post-sale.”

AT&T officials say its range of professional services are designed to help corporate network managers support hybrid networks that carry both IP and legacy data traffic. 

“We’re best in class in IP VPNs. We’re best in class in frame relay. But that’s not enough,” Jenner says. “What’s important to our customers is that the hybrid networks that they have continue to work together for the next three to five years.”

To that end, AT&T is enhancing the professional services it offers to help companies design, implement and support hybrid networks. AT&T also is working on standardizing and improving customer experiences across its many services. For example, AT&T offers BusinessDirect, a unified Web portal that corporate customers can use to order and manage AT&Ts diverse services.

“Customers’ environments are going to be hybrid over the next three to five years,” Jenner says. “Servicing multi-national corporations will require depth in the U.S. and quality of services. Carriers are going to need a broad set of services and an integrated way of delivering those services.”