RFPs issued by the Bells for IP, optical and multiservice switching technology are focused on products that will let them incrementally add services while gradually enabling them to consolidate all services onto a common backbone.RFPs issued by the Bells for\u00a0IP,\u00a0optical\u00a0and multiservice switching technology are focused on products that will let them incrementally add services while gradually enabling them to consolidate all services onto a common backbone.The idea is to maintain current investments and revenue streams while paving the way for new packet-based IP services and infrastructures.RBOCs are evaluating gear from incumbent vendors such as\u00a0Cisco,\u00a0Fujitsu,\u00a0Juniper,\u00a0Lucent\u00a0and\u00a0Nortel, as well as newer ones such as\u00a0Laurel Networks\u00a0and\u00a0WaveSmith Networks."They're looking to build out core networks with IP, or a combination of IP and\u00a0MPLS, that are really meant to consolidate all of their data traffic, maybe not from day one, but that's clearly the direction," says Charlie Giancarlo, a senior vice president at Cisco, which recently landed a core router deal with SBC.Equipment vendors are responding to RFPs for IP edge router buildouts from all of the RBOCs. MPLS is also a requirement for this equipment as an aggregator of Layer 2 services, such as\u00a0ATM and frame relay, and as an enabler of IP services such as VPNs.Laurel Networks is seeing a lot of interest from RBOCs for equipment that can extend Ethernet transparent LAN services across inter-local-access-and-transport-area boundaries without greatly increasing operational costs."That involves all sorts of different areas, ranging from making sure the\u00a0QoS\u00a0techniques are compatible to ensuring that provisioning and network signaling and various other aspects of the overall solution are compatible with one another," says Steve Vogelsang, co-founder and vice president of marketing.Compatibility with installed assets is also key in optical RFPs, according to officials at Fujitsu Network Communications. RBOCs are seeking products that will help them save money in the near-term by integrating painlessly into existing infrastructures, says Bob Laurent, manager of product marketing."Even if you don't bring in the new Ethernet type of services over SONET, you're still saving a tremendous amount of [equipment] space and power with these new platforms," he says.Nortel sees an emphasis on the "optical edge" - platforms for provisioning optical broadband services, says Philippe Morin, general manager of Optical Networks."The carriers are now getting to a point where they're going in and setting up dedicated networks, [much like the] SBC GigaMAN win that we got late last year," Morin says. "That's a private network with [DWDM-based] services for storage connectivity or Ethernet services."Managed wavelength services is an example of a new service RBOCs are looking to deliver. But in their frame relay\/ATM RFPs, they also want to tap a market they've been barred from to date: long-distance data services, says Ken Packert, president of multiservice switching at Lucent."It is a $15 billion market that already exists but one they have not been able to participate in," Packert says. "They're going to go after and try to capture as much of that market as they can. Things don't radically turn overnight, yet in order to be viable they have to have plans to start to deliver these more advanced kinds of services." Back to main story: "Who says the Bells aren't spending?"