• United States

MCI rolls out convergence services

Apr 05, 20043 mins
Internet Service ProvidersNetworking

* MCI enables customers to mix IP VPN, private IP, frame relay and ATM nets

MCI will offer in April a suite of data networking services that will provide corporate customers with improved interoperability between the carrier’s IP VPN, private IP, frame-relay and ATM networks.

The carrier has been developing the services – dubbed Convergence Networking – for a year. The Convergence Networking services are designed to help companies transition from legacy data networking protocols, such as frame-relay and ATM, to IP in a gradual fashion.

“Convergence Networking enables [companies] to get greater use out of their existing networks and allows them to migrate to IP at their own pace,” says Jim DeMerlis, MCI’s vice president for data and IP services. “Some companies are pushing the envelope on IP and MPLS while other companies are very comfortable with their existing frame, ATM or private line networks.”

We’re looking at MCI’s Convergence Networking strategy in the final installation of a series of columns about the reach, focus and stability of today’s top-tier global ISPs. 

Network executives needing Internet access in many locations around the world have six main ISPs to consider: AT&T, British Telecom, Equant, Infonet, MCI and Sprint. In previous newsletters, we’ve profiled the other five carriers and you can access those newsletters here:

This week, we’re focusing on MCI’s IP services as the mammoth carrier prepares to emerge from its bankruptcy proceedings.

MCI has two IP networks: a public IP network that was formerly run by UUNET; and a private IP network that uses Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) for traffic engineering and differentiated classes of service.

Despite its financial troubles, MCI’s IP backbone continues to be one of the largest in the world. MCI’s global IP network features 4,500 POPs on six continents (not Antarctica) and supports 2 million dial-up modems.

MCI’s private IP network currently offers direct access to MPLS in 19 countries and indirect access to MPLS in a further 58 nations. MCI recently announced an expansion of its MPLS services across its private IP network. By year-end, MCI will offer direct access to MPLS in 48 countries while the remaining 29 will continue with indirect access to MPLS.

“Private IP is our fastest growing service,” DeMerlis says. “The good news there is that we’re seeing about half of our existing frame-relay customers move to private IP. The other half is essentially new customers.”

MCI also offers dial-up access to its IP network in 140 countries.

Over the last year, MCI has been interconnecting its two IP networks as well as its frame-relay and ATM networks using what it calls Secure Internetworking Gateways. These gateways are the foundation for its Convergence Networking services.

Last summer, MCI announced the first phase of its Convergence Networking services with its IP VPN Remote service, which provides companies with remote access to their private data networks via the public Internet.

In April, MCI will offer full interoperability between all of its data networks. Later this year, MCI plans to offer network-based firewall services.

With Convergence Networking, MCI is creating one global IP network that can be reached many different ways. MCI offers a variety of dedicated access technologies including DSL, broadband, Ethernet. MCI also supports remote access via dial-in and Wi-Fi.

“The Secure Internetworking Gateways are basically an access mechanism into our IP core,” DeMerlis says. “We’re offering a variety of access technologies that allow companies to access our global IP network globally.”