RealTime IT News

Convergence With AT&T's Global IP Plans

AT&T is accelerating its embrace of convergence with a new $750 million investment in its global Internet infrastructure.

The move represents an even bolder step by the telecommunications provider to offer a bundle of networking services that are IP-based, as well as leverage its Cingular Wireless assets.

AT&T said the plan includes more than 200 initiatives expanding and enhancing the company's global business VPN, voice and security services offered multinational customers.

"This is an investment in their enterprise business, it's certainly not a huge surprise," Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris King told internetnews.com.

A key goal of the investment is extending AT&T's global IP reach and offering more connectivity options. The telecom giant said it plans to focus on high-growth markets, including Asia Pacific (including China and India), the Middle East and Latin America. More developed markets in France, Germany, the U.K. and Canada will also be touched by the network expansion.

AT&T also said by the end of 2007 it will increase to 38 Internet Data Centers (IDC) deployed worldwide. Capacity of existing sites in California, Virginia and the UK will be expanded while opening new centers in the New Jersey/New York area and Canada.

Those centers, including four from USinternetworking and BellSouth, will deliver new managed hosted services, using application software management of recently acquired USi.

Additionally, the telecom giant will also extend deployment of Wi-Fi, DSL, Ethernet and satellite to help companies connect to the global IP network.

Slated by year's end: satellite and long line extension access from 51 countries, DSL access in 34 countries and Ethernet access in 31, according to a statement.

By the end of 2007, more than 155 countries -- including Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Morocco and India -- will gain Multiprotocol Label Switches (MPLS)-based access to AT&T's global IP network.

The MPLS-based integrated IP network lets AT&T provide a variety of global services over a single converged infrastructure.

"If for example, a multinational customer in France wants voice services we can also provide this over the MPLS network," explained Niall, Hickey, an AT&T spokesman.

AT&T said remote access to its global IP network is available via cell phone, wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

Analysts see the move as a reaffirmation by AT&T and other telecoms that they are not only embracing the march of convergence of voice and data across any network platform, land-based or wireless -- but are collapsing time and space by extending their global network service.

Following a flurry of North American-based acquisitions by SBC (now AT&T) and Verizon , the market wondered if the companies were now more North America-centric. "So I think this is to respond to that," Gartner analyst Kathie Hackler told internetnews.com.

Today's announcement is also an evolution of infrastructure keeping pace with market demand. "I think that all of the large network service providers recognize they need to shift to IP services in the business market," said Hackler.