A Quebec-based transportation firm has inked a three-year contract worth about $370,000 for MTS Allstream Inc. to provide a wide-area data network and Internet services.
Lachine-based Delmar International Inc., which provides international freight forwarding and customs brokerage services, has seven offices in Canada and five in the U.S., plus operations in Britain and east Asia.
Delmar provides international transport services, cargo insurance and cargo tracking – all of which require a reliable data network.
The 12 offices in North America are connected to a mainframe using a star topology, said Jaki Abihsera, Delmar’s IT hardware manager and system integration specialist.
“Our mainframe communication uses different protocols,” Abihsera said. “We prioritize these protocols … so service never gets interrupted. No matter how heavy the traffic becomes, we try to maintain a quality of service in order for users to have the communications they need at their fingertips.”
MTS Allstream recently announced Delmar is extending, by three years, a data services contract the two firms have had for 11 years.
Allstream is the carrier with a 30,000-kilometre national network that Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. acquired in 2005 for $1.7 billion. Allstream is now MTS’s enterprise division, which provides IT consulting and security services and used to be known as AT&T Canada Inc.
Allstream president Dean Prevost said the carrier offers six classes of service using multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), which lets enterprise users prioritize traffic.
Abihsera said the three-year contract extension is comprised of two separate services. The data network that connects its key offices (including Toronto, New York and Montreal) using a 10 Megabit per second (Mbps) fibre-based service costs about $109,000 per year. That service connects all Canadian and U.S. offices.
For Internet services, Abihsera said, Delmar is using a separate service from Allstream that costs about $15,000 per year.
“The Internet helps us connect all agents and partners we have across the world,” Abihsera said. This includes the Canada Border Services Agency.
Delmar has offices at border crossings in Windsor and Fort Erie, Ontario, plus Lacolle, Que., located near the U.S. border about 60 km south of Montreal. It also has branch offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Edison, N.J.
Abihsera said Allstream rarely has network outages but when they do, Allstream engineers are usually aware of the problem because they monitor the network.
“If any of the nodes fail, they will work on the service without us having to call them,” Abihsera said. “I have access to a direct line with their engineers.”
Prevost said with modern data protocols such as wide-area Ethernet and MPLS, “you have to be very careful how you hand off” traffic to other carriers.
“Frame Relay had a very specific standard on how to hand off traffic,” he said, referring to a data networking standard introduced in 1991. With Ethernet and MPLS, Prevost said, different carriers can have different classes of service.
“You may hand off service other carriers don’t recognize,” Prevost said of Ethernet. “It gets more complicated if you move real time voice or video.”
Before AT&T Canada was rebranded as Allstream, it offered both local and long-distance phone service, plus Internet access. It got into the local phone business in 1999 by acquiring MetroNet Communications Corp.,. one of Canada’s first competitive local exchange carriers. MetroNet had just acquired ISP Netcom.
AT&T Canada lit up the first 4,400 km of its network, from Toronto to Vancouver, in 1999.