BellSouth unveils regional IP backbone

BellSouth Corp. this week announced that it has implemented a regionwide, inter-LATA MPLS backbone to support IP and next-generation data and voice services.

The RBOC has deployed the BellSouth Regional IP Backbone (BRIB) with points of presence (POP) in all major geographic areas in the BellSouth territory. The BRIB supports RFC 2547-compliant MPLS VPNs, dedicated Internet access, DSL services and upcoming voice-over-IP offerings.

Transparent LAN, ATM and Layer 2 VPN support are planned for the second half of the year.

MPLS enables traffic engineering and enhanced performance of IP transport, while simultaneously facilitating quality of service, BellSouth says. It was implemented to converge voice, data, and ultimately video traffic over a common infrastructure, enable greater control of end-to-end services, support traffic redundancy and ease expansion, the carrier says.

MPLS is also the foundation of BRIB’s service-level guarantees, and its dynamic routing architecture will help ensure business continuity for customers, BellSouth says.

The BRIB core is based on Juniper Networks Inc.’s T640 and M160 routers. Three central BRIB hubs are located in Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans.

Cisco Systems Inc.’s 10000 and 12000 series routers aggregate traffic and apply QoS, security, accounting, and routing and VPN policy attributes at the edge.

BRIB extends throughout BellSouth’s 38 LATAs within its nine-state region through 50 POPs.

Analysts praised BellSouth for BRIB’s example of how an RBOC can exploit long-distance relief throughout its regional footprint to extend network reach, cut costs and offer new services. But constraining the network to its regional footprint also limits its potential, they say.

“Like BellSouth’s other interLATA efforts, the BRIB doesn’t extend outside BellSouth territory,” states Current Analysis Inc. analyst Brian Washburn in a report issued this week. “BellSouth can’t extend its MPLS network to the rest of the world yet. Customers that need nationwide or international MPLS networks will need to seek out an IXC such as AT&T Corp., or they’ll need to carry traffic off the MPLS network, using CPE-based IP VPNs with a router that supports IPSec, for example.”

But according to Current Analysis, BellSouth is not planning to build national or international networks to support customers outside of its region anytime soon. The RBOC primarily uses MCI – formerly WorldCom Inc. – for its long-haul IP backbone business, and claims to be Qwest Communications International Inc.’s largest wholesale customer for national and international coverage.