Cisco Systems, MCI WorldCom, and Bellcore have joined with other major WAN vendors and carriers in a forum to open up multiservice networks.
The Multiservice Switching Forum (MSF) will develop specifications to let access devices, switches, and network controllers interoperate in service provider facilities. The vendors and carriers hope to speed up development of multiservice carrier networks that can handle voice, video, and data traffic.
"These networks will support not only ATM, but also IP and frame-relay services, and can significantly reduce the cost of providing these services," said Morgan Littlewood, director of marketing at Cisco's Multiservice Switching Unit.
In addition to the three companies that spearheaded the group, which began operation this week, other founding members include AT&T, Alcatel SA, Ascend, British Telecom PLC, Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks, Siemens, and US West.
Officials said the group will utilise standards developed by existing bodies, including the ATM Forum, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Frame Relay Forum, the International Telecommunications Union, and the Bellcore Generic Requirements process.
The founding members have proposed implementations of an architecture for multiservice networks, and the Virtual Switch Interface protocol for independent devices to control switches.