RealTime IT News

Lucent Helps SBC Move Centrex to Packet Networks

Seeking to protect its investments in older, circuit-switched telecommunications equipment while offering customers new value-added services, SBC Communications Inc. Tuesday sealed a multi-year agreement with Lucent Technologies .

Lucent will provide SBC with its IP Centrex platform -- consisting of the Lucent iMerge Centrex Feature Gateway (CFG) and the SpringTide 7000 IP Service Switch -- allowing SBC to offer an SBC Centrex IP service. The service uses voice over packet transport, allowing customers to integrate their own voice and data networks over a single local area network to support all their communication needs.

Centrex, short for central office exchange service, is a type of private branch exchange (PBX) service in which switching occurs at a local telephone station instead of at the company premises. The telephone company typically owns and manages all the communications equipment and sells the services to businesses, which benefit from reduced costs associated with buying and maintaining telecommunications equipment while protecting against equipment obsolescence.

The Lucent iMerge CFG, which works with any Class 5 switch, serves as a bridge between circuit-switched networks and IP network infrastructures, allowing service providers to use existing central office equipment to extend Centrex features over packet networks and opening up Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capabilities.

Meanwhile, the SpringTide 7000 IP Services Switch gives service providers the ability to provision and deploy revenue generation IP services through both virtual routing and MPLS VPN.

"SBC selected the iMerge Centrex Feature Gateway because of its ability to work with Class 5 switches from various suppliers, and its ability for one central office to support IP telephony services for as many as four satellite offices in the SBC architecture," said Charles Rudnick, senior vice president, SBC product marketing.

SBC helped Lucent deploy one of the nation's largest Centrex IP deployments in April 2001 at Lucent's Lisle, Ill. facility. In January, the State of Wisconsin went on to successfully complete an SBC Centrex IP trial, which demonstrated the service's ability to carry all features and functionality from one central office to a central office about 150 miles away, while allowing the customer to maintain the same local dialing plan.

SBC said its Centrex IP solution will be available to customers beginning in September. The initial rollouts are planned for Chicago, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles and Sacramento.