Equant is forging ahead with IP VPN service enhancements and integration with offerings it acquired through a merger with Global One Communications in June.
A by-product of the enhancements will be lower voice-over-IP service costs for IP VPN customers, Equant said.
Equant and Global One were offering multi-protocol label switching [MPLS] data services prior to merging six months ago. Equant has been integrating the companies' networks and service offering, which were based on the same network infrastructure from Cisco. Both were also offering guaranteed classes of service.
While the companies' IP VPN services were supporting voice, Equant is offering an integrated voice-over-IP to many of its IP VPN customers. Equant is using a single platform to support its voice-over-IP capabilities and claims that users are saving more on termination fees.
"Voice-over-IP termination rates have been reduced by 25 to 33 per cent," said Gopi Gopinath, head of Equant's IP and data services division.
Equant has deployed Hewlett-Packard/Netcentrex SA voice-over-IP gateways throughout its networks to support the service. Voice-over-IP is available in 58 of the 140 countries that Equant offers IP VPN. There are regulatory issues in many countries that prevent Equant from offering voice-over-IP in more areas, Gopinath said.
Equant plans to upgrade its IP VPN service within six months. Included will be enhanced call center support for voice-over-IP customers. At the same time, Equant is also planning to bundle its Internet Direct access service with its IP VPN offering. "Customers will be able to use the same router and dedicated line to access the Internet and their IP VPN," Gopinath said.
The service will let users dedicate a portion of the bandwidth from their connection, which could be frame relay, ATM, private line, X.25 or asymmetric DSL in some countries, for Internet access only.
APL, one of the world's largest container shipping companies, recently signed a three-year contract with Equant to connect 180 sites in 30 countries to its IP VPN service, although the company is not using the voice-over-IP features.
California-based APL chose Equant because the company offers a fully managed service with stringent service-level agreements, said CIO Cindy Stoddard. "We were looking for a service provider with global reach that could offer very high reliability because a lot of our operations run 24-7."
Before teaming with Equant, APL used frame relay services from one service provider, Stoddard said. But that provider would use other carrier networks to meet APL's global needs where it did not have its own coverage. "We wanted to move to a carrier that operated one network," she said.