RealTime IT News

Frontier, Lucent Plan Nationwide Voice Over IP Network

Fresh from accepting the Global Crossing Ltd. merger plans, Frontier Communications now intends to forge its way past circuit-based telephony boundaries.

Frontier Communications Tuesday announced the company is joining forces with Lucent Technologies to design and build an Internet protocol telephony network.

When completed, the IP telephony network is expected to carry all of Frontier's voice traffic by the year 2002.

As part of the deal, Lucent will provide trunking and universal access gateway products to Frontier for enabling interoperability between its existing circuit network and its emerging IP telephony network.

The core of Frontier's IP telephony network is Lucent Technologies' softswitch. The Bell Labs-developed software switch operates on standard computer workstations. According to Lucent, the software switch provides all of the traditional features offered on circuit-based phone switches at a fraction of the cost.

Rolla Huff, Frontier president and chief operating office, said partnering with Lucent would facilitate Frontier's ability to build a carrier class IP telephony network.

"By collaborating with IP innovators such as Lucent, Frontier is the first to make carrier class IP telephony a reality," Huff said. "This world-class IP network gives us the scalability and reliability we need to deliver our IP application networking services with Silicon economics."

Brian Fink, Frontier vice president of systems and products, said the IP telephony network has been tested and will be ready for a limited launch in about a month.

"Over the past quarter, we've conducted extensive testing of trunking gateway and softswitch technology, simulating live production network environments in our Denver labs," Fink said.

Depending on the results of further testing in a limited launch, Fink said Frontier plans to offer IP telephony services throughout the U.S. next year.

"We'll initially deploy IP telephony in three U.S. cities next month and plan to expand our network to include 15 to 20 cities nationwide by the first half of 2000," Fink said. "We expect to have 100 percent of our traffic traversing our IP network by year-end 2002."

Nina Aversano, Lucent president of global service provider business in North American, said the new softswitch technology is the key to evolving voice and data IP telephony networks.

"This new technology will enable us to help customers such as Frontier quickly design, build and evolve communications networks that can handle any service imaginable; from express-lane data connections to next-door-quality voice calls."

Under a separate agreement with Sonus Networks, Lucent is providing Frontier with the Sonus GSX9000 Open Services Switch.

The Sonus product is a trunking gateway that provides high capacity access between old circuit-based networks and new packetized networks. The Sonus trunking gateway works as a voice-over-packet central office switch that extends the scalability and service potential of current public voice networks.

Hassan Ahmed, Sonus president and chief operating officer, said the company is thrilled to be partnering with Frontier and Lucent in order to make packet telephony a working reality.

"Our vision has been to enable a new generation of applications for integrated voice and data services, through the migration of telephony from circuit networks to packet networks," Ahmed said.

"With their new voice-over-packet network and Lucent's softswitch technology, Frontier is taking a leadership position in the industry, delivering not only the traditional telephony services their customers expect, but also innovative, new applications enabled by IP."