IP expands to multimedia applications


By Edward Harroff

Internet Protocol (IP) technology is ready for carrier-grade voice switching for carriers seeking to cut costs by converging voice and data networks.

This was shown when LDCOM Networks, a subsidiary of the Louis Dreyfus Group and a provider of broadband services in France and Southern Europe, took Alcatel's suite for Next Generation Networks into commercial use in France in 2001, switching voice through LDCOM's next-generation DWDM backbone network.

The convergent approach enables the important voice and data networks underlying the Internet to merge into one IP-based multimedia communications environment. For this to succeed voice network intelligence must be preserved with the flexibility and enormous bandwidths of DWDM networks.

Alcatel's NGN platform separates call control from voice transport, enabling LDCOM Networks to use existing profitable voice services on their IP core network while maintaining the quality of voice as high as in traditional telecoms networks.

At first stage, Alcatel's 1000 MM switches are used in terminating domestic traffic at 20 European metropolitan centres, allowing LDCOM to cut their cost in network engineering and operating systems.

"Our aim is to form a common backbone network that supports voice and data services and can be used as a gateway between voice, ISP subscriptions and networks," says Frédéric Gastaldo, president of LDCOM.

The solution is a step towards IP-based networks, where all traffic can be transmitted cost-effectively on a single network. It should also give savings in the switching of telecoms traffic and it enables access to future IP-based service development.

Next-generation IP telephony means that IP-based traffic will be collected from different type of user, by either direct IP access or using existing telephony equipment set for IP (line access). These incremental user profiles will offer operators like LDCOM Networks new service opportunities created by a dynamic market.

LDCOM Networks' challenge is to support reliable, simple and secure IP telephony for their entire carrier's user segments. The 1000 MM switch combines the power and features of a local exchange with the bandwidth, flexibility and open interfaces of data networks.

Multimedia services meet network users' increasing demands for mobility and operator flexibility by bundling new applications for the next-gen Internet.

LDCOM Networks now permit application service providers to make installations via application programming interfaces (API). One such application is Synchronised Web Surfing, which enables multiple Internet users to access the same Internet content. LDCOM customers include Band-X, e-Brands, ESDS, France Link, France Teaser, Kosmos Telecom, Maiaah!, Naino, Sunforest, and Virtual Computer.

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