Cisco, Ericsson partner on IP telephony

Cisco Systems and Sweden's Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson have signed a mutiyear agreement to jointly sell IP telephony equipment to global telephone corporations, the companies announced Wednesday.

The move is partly designed to bring multiservice networks using IP (Internet Protocol) technology to market more quickly, along with the services using those networks, Cisco and Ericsson said in a joint statement.

"It is a wireline agreement for the moment," said Cisco spokesman David Cook, adding that future wireless agreements between Cisco and Ericsson are a possibility but currently in the realm of speculation. The companies are not disclosing any financial details of the agreement for the time being, he said.

The strategic alliance will combine Cisco's core routers and switches with Ericsson's softswitch product line, Cook said. Based on IP packets, softswitches are carrier-class servers that are not tied to the switching hardware they control, and are particularly adept at combining IP voice and data services.

Customers, particularly those that are in the process of modernizing their networks, will benefit from the combination of Ericsson's solid customer knowledge and strong background of building communication infrastructure and product portfolio, coupled with Cisco's market-leading IP portfolio, IP routing expertise and its good customer relationships, Cook said.

According to Cisco and Ericsson, Telstra has already expressed enthusiastic support for the alliance.

Cisco has similar agreements with other suppliers such as Motorola, Finland's Nokia and Siemens in Germany, though the Ericsson deal will have "no impact on those primarily wireless-focused relationships," Cook said. Lucent Technologies Inc. also sells Cisco wireless network equipment.

In the wireless market, Ericsson, of Stockholm, has a partnership with Cisco rival Juniper Networks.

Ericsson has recently been highlighting the importance of partnerships as well as outsourcing its services as the company moves ahead with 3G (third-generation) network deployment.

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