Cisco, Sprint Pitch IP Platform

Cisco Systems and Sprint , which previously announced a partnership to increase the adoption of Internet protocol equipment and services, have unveiled their first industry-specific offering.

The San Jose, Calif., and Overland, Park, Kan., companies chose the auto sector because dealerships are often far-flung and sell several brands, complicating communications with their suppliers. Other targeted offerings are expected from the partners.

The new platform, dubbed Dealer Solutions, allows both parties to securely share real-time information — including custom orders — over an IP virtual private network .

Accessible over cable modem, DSL or dial-up, the platform comes with service level agreements and is available internationally.

“Pricing can vary greatly based on customer needs,” said Jackie Bostick, a Sprint spokeswoman told

Among the factors affecting price are the access, transport, VPN, management options and e-mail security needs of the specific dealer.

In addition to opening the lines between seller and supplier, Dealer Solutions also provides the network infrastructure needed for e-commerce activities, customer relationship management and online video training for sales and maintenance employees.

For Sprint, the deal is the latest in an effort to increase its Internet services business among enterprises. Margins are higher for the service than voice traffic. Cisco last week said orders from enterprises (as well as carriers) helped contribute to solid first-quarter results.

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