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Williams to Deploy Packet Switches for EnhancedWholesale Services

Posted: 02/2000

Business News

Williams to Deploy Packet Switches for Enhanced
Wholesale Services

In an effort to extend its menu of wholesale services to include not only fiber
capacity but all enhanced voice and data services, emerging carriers’ carrier Williams
Communications Group (www.wilcom.com) agreed to a
$20-million purchase of packet telephony switches from Sonus Networks Inc. (www.sonusnet.com). Williams described the deployment as
the first step in a three-year plan to migrate all telephony and data traffic, as well as
wholesale enhanced voice services, away from circuit switching and onto Williams’
ATM-based Multi-Service Broadband network.

Announced Dec. 13, the Sonus contract could expand to more than $100 million over three
years. By the end of 2000, Williams plans to expand its current 22,000-mile optical
network to 33,000 miles reaching 125 markets.

The Sonus GSX9000 Open Services Switch, which Frontier Communications Inc. (now Global
Crossing Ltd., www.globalcrossing.com) was
purchased last fall, is designed to mediate traffic across packet-switched and
circuit-switched network boundaries. It appears to PSTN equipment as a standard Class 4 or
Class 5 circuit switch or to packet network equipment as an Internet protocol (IP) or ATM
switch. The GSX9000 also integrates a standard computer server-based softswitch, or it
will work with third-party softswitches, for creation and control of enhanced services.

In the Frontier deployment, the GSX9000 will be deployed with a softswitch from Lucent
Technologies Inc. (www.lucent.com).

Enhanced services Williams considered include unified communications, call centers and
Internet offload.

"One great thing about this is that it’s another step toward developing a full
palette of wholesale services for our carrier and reseller customers," says Paul
Savill, vice president of network planning for Williams network group. "This really
opens the door for us on service creation, because now we can buy the hardware platform
but use software developed by all kinds of people."

After deploying and testing a three-switch "development network" early this
year, Williams intends to migrate normal 1+ dialing, 800-number and calling card traffic
to the switches, while retaining standard PSTN call controls. In early 2001, Williams will
introduce enhanced IP services, and it will migrate all voice traffic to packet switch
transport and softswitch call control by 2002.

"This creates more opportunities for higher margin services, and our customers can
worry about marketing and selling while we take care of all the infrastructure for
them," says Savill.

He adds, Williams is in discussions with service creation software providers including
BroadSoft Inc. (www.broadsoft.com); DTI Networks
Inc. (www.dticorp.com); with Sonus partner developers
of messaging, call center, IP fax; and other applications, including eFusion (www.efusion.com), Iperia Inc. (www.iperia.com), Net-Centric Corp. (www.netcentric.com) and Priority Call Management Inc.
(www.prioritycall.com).

While Frontier and Williams initially will use the GSX9000 as a combination switch and
packet-circuit-gateway to augment Class 4 PSTN trunking switches, all three carriers
intend to make them the core of all-packet networks in an architecture that makes no
distinctions between Class-4-tandem and Class-5-local switches.

"Eventually, Class 4-5 constraints go away," says Gary Rogers, vice president
of sales and marketing for Sonus, who notes the GSX9000 can supply 24,000 DS-0 voice
circuits in a four-foot rack.

"That small footprint means you can afford to distribute the switch resources
locally or regionally," Rogers says.

Williams Communications’ senior vice president and chief technology officer Matthew
Bross notes the ability to deploy the switches rapidly was a key factor in its decision.
Also important is the Sonus equipment’s ability to interoperate with the current network
equipment, allowing a graceful migration to a next-generation voice architecture.


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