Masergy extends VPN offerings to voice

Masergy Communications Inc. is launching its latest high-performance network service that allows users to support voice traffic over IP networks.

The carrier’s InControl Voice VPN service, which includes a stringent service-level agreement (SLA), lets users add traditional voice traffic to existing IP VPNs.

The SLA promises 100 per cent packet delivery, 100 per cent in-sequence packet delivery and less-than-one-second network fail over to a back-up connection in case of a network outage.

“Some customers are looking to add voice to their VPNs, especially in branch offices where users don’t want to deploy full-blown telecom systems,” says Maribel Dolinov, an analyst at Forrester Research. Masergy’s service will let customers add voice support to a few locations or throughout their VPN, she says.

Masergy is using Differentiated Services (Diff-Serv) with Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) to mark the headers of individual IP packets for delivery across its network. Diff-Serv is used at the edge to mark the packets with the appropriate priority level, and MPLS is deployed throughout the carrier’s network to deliver packets based on the Diff-Serv tag.

The service supports on-net and off-net voice traffic. Masergy has deployed four Sonus Networks media gateways in the United States and is in the process of deploying an additional gateway in Europe to support voice traffic destined for the public switched telephone network.

A customer is required to configure, deploy and manage either a voice-over-IP gateway or add a VoIP card to their existing edge router to support the service. Masergy is not offering customers a fully managed InControl Voice VPN service, but Rick Wilder, principal scientist, says the carrier is developing such a service.

While a managed service lets users who don’t have in-house expertise get up and running more quickly, it can be out of reach for smaller businesses, Dolinov says.

“This is a good service for the midtier enterprise that probably has a couple of knowledgeable network experts on staff. Small to [midsize] enterprise users may not be interested in a fully managed service because those tend to get too expensive,” she says.

The majority of Masergy’s competition comes from carriers such as AT&T, WorldCom and Equant that are offering fully managed service options.

If a Masergy customer wants to add InControl Voice VPN to an existing VPN connection, the customer would pay an additional flat fee plus usage charges. A customer with a T-1 connection would generally pay about US$1,000 per month.

InControl Voice VPN customers will pay an additional port fee starting at $300 per month. Customers also pay a usage fee for voice traffic starting at $4 per month, per gigabit of traffic. Users also pay off-net usage fees of about two cents per minute in the United States.

Masergy can be reached at