Cable and Wireless building new global IP network

Cable and Wireless PLC is building a new global private IP backbone to support converged voice and data services that feature real-time performance guarantees.

The company announced the construction of its network along with a four-year co-marketing and technology deal with Cisco Systems Inc. last week.

Cable and Wireless is using Cisco gear throughout its private IP network to support VPN, voice-over-IP and video-over-IP services. Cisco and its value-added resellers will offer the carrier’s IP Convergence services when they become available in the second quarter.

The network will run parallel to the carrier’s public IP network, using Cisco 12000 and 10000 series routers at the core and 7000-series routers at the edge to support multiple classes of service using Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS).

“Cable & Wireless is taking a conservative approach to its MPLS rollout, which is probably the smart way to go at this point,” says Brownlee Thomas, an analyst at Giga Information Group. With competitors such as Equant, with 500 customers on its MPLS network, and Infonet, with about 270 customers on its MPLS network, “we’re still talking about a small amount of demand,” she says.

Offering multiple classes of service over a predictable data network is what business users are looking for in the long term, she adds.

The network also uses the IETF’s RFC 2547 specification, which stipulates how carriers support MPLS-based VPNs. Cable and Wireless has been talking about offering MPLS VPN services since late last year.

A typical node will include two Cisco 12000 routers, a Catalyst 6500 router and several Cisco 7500 routers. Cable and Wireless says it’s using existing fiber to support the network and will not need any new fibre to support the deployment.

The first phase of the network will be deployed in seven U.S. cities in June. Although the network and initial services are slated for availability in less than two months, the company would not say which network nodes will be deployed first. Nor would the carrier say how many nodes would be deployed by year-end.

Cable and Wireless says this is a global network deployment that will include nodes in Europe and Japan. The carrier says it has supported multiple nodes based on the Cisco gear in the United kingdom for more than a year.

In conjunction with Cisco, Cable and Wireless is developing global end-to-end converged voice and data services that will include desktop-to-desktop management. The carrier also says real-time service-level agreements (SLA) will be available with its service offering. Cable and Wireless would not describe what its standard SLA would include.