New Cisco program to help form alliances

Cisco Systems Inc. has announced a new service carrier program that it’s director says is “all about forming alliances” and promoting the growth of voice over IP traffic.

The company introduced the Cisco Service Carrier Community program last month so that its members will be able to exchange traffic to deliver end-to-end VoIP services, said Peter Carlino, director of the carrier community program at Cisco. He added that the program will be less focused on products and more on helping businesses grow.

“The idea is to enable these carrier members to meet one another and to form relationships and extend the reach of IP networks from premise to premise for domestic and international telephony,” he said. “A lot of times today, an IP call will be handed off to a TDM carrier for delivery domestically or internationally. What we are trying to do is enable the IP carriers to work more closely so that it stays on IP networks longer.”

According to Infonetics Research, Cisco might be on the right track. Worldwide revenues for next-generation voice products are forecasted to total US$6 billion in 2004.

“For the industry to mature, carriers need to start getting together more,” Carlino said. “The network of networks approach is very alive here. The industry has reached a point in its maturity where it is able to do this.”

He continued by saying that there has been tremendous interest in the project, and that small business and enterprises are generating an increasing amount of traffic.

“It’s actually started where the enterprises are taking IP telephony and looking for carriers who can provide them with an end-to-end voice transfer,” he said. “In today’s world, the reality is that there are an awful lot of minutes on the TDM network that could be suited for IP networks if people knew where to turn for partnerships. Overall, the benefit of IP is that it reduces the aggregate cost of voice-data networks.”

Dan McLean, research analyst at IDC Canada, thinks this is a step in the right direction.

“It’s a good move because they are attempting to get those who are provisioning IP networks on the communications service side together so they can cooperate with one another, so they can offer a seamless, larger, IP-based network,” he said. “They are trying to foster an end-to-end environment.”

McLean also believes Cisco’s estimations for the market are dead-on, making the future look promising.

Members of the program are password-protected and get a searchable Web database containing profiles of all members, including the traffic routes they serve, their contact information and application services they provide.

This allows service providers to find business partners for origination, transport and termination of voice traffic in over 200 countries around the world.

“The demand is certainly one that we perceive as we talk to the customers all the time,” he said. “We do a lot of informal matchmaking and we put together the concept of the program. It is something that a lot of our key customers have helped us decide.”