A Spanish subsidiary of British Telecommunications (BT) is set to build the world's largest Internet telephony network, Nortel Networks and BT announced yesterday.
Using Internet Protocol (IP) technology from Nortel, the network will support more customers than any national network currently existing in the world, BT claims.
According to the company, BT has spent more than $US640 million on the fixed, mobile and Internet communications markets in Spain, with another $970 million earmarked for investment over the next decade.
"Spain had not had a telephony service offering until it obtained its alternative operating licence in 1998," said Dan Mangelsdorf, Nortel's director of Internet telephony marketing. "And when they took on the opportunity to set that up, they asked: 'Can anyone offer us an Internet telephony solution that meets our requirements?' And we were the ones able to make that happen."
Nortel's IPConnect Internet Telephony service helps providers such as BT set up IP-based, multiservice networks that offer a variety of telephony services. The network in Spain -- which offers full interoperability with traditional telephone networks -- is set to provide coverage across the country in 1999 from 12 main nodes, a number that BT expects to swell to 27 within the next three years.
Beginning early next year, BT will offer advanced services such as direct and indirect dial facilities, and virtual private network (VPN) applications.
Asked whether the type of one-stop telephony service being planned for Spain has the potential to become a worldwide standard, Mangelsdorf said: "It absolutely will. This is a precursor for the start of a new phase in telecommunications."
He said that from a service perspective, "between capital acquisition and installation, plus operation, the chief benefit is 50 per cent lower cost, and that gets passed on to end users.
"We're developing a very open solution that will enable more rapid service and development and creation, and the end users will benefit," he said.