AT&T Finally Manages Frame Relay Voice

WASHINGTON (01/28/2000) - It's official: You no longer have to hide from AT&T Corp. the fact that you're using its frame relay network to place long-distance telephone calls. In fact, now the carrier will help you do it.

The carrier last week announced AT&T Managed Multi-Service Networking, a service that feeds on-net voice traffic through Motorola frame relay-based multiservice access devices deployed on customer premises onto the AT&T frame network.

Users pay normal frame relay charges plus $200 to $600 per month, per site for AT&T management of the service via the Motorola customer premises equipment (CPE). In return, they no longer have to pay per-minute tolls to AT&T for on-net long-distance service.

The announcement had been expected for several months after AT&T quietly began demonstrating the service at user-group meetings and trade shows.

Managed Multi-Service Networking is technically not the first AT&T service that breaks the historic bugaboo holding back the king of long-distance from offering a service that "cannibalizes" its own installed base of circuit-switched toll traffic. But it is the first such service to be commercially available over a widely deployed AT&T data network - frame relay.

In addition, because Managed Multi-Service Networking uses frame relay access devices that have long been employed in multiprotocol frame relay networks, it also supports mixed-protocol data environments as well as IP.

AT&T in 1999 launched a comprehensive convergence service called Integrated Network Connection Service, but that offering is based on ATM CPE. AT&T is also conducting a limited enterprise voice-over-IP trial over its Internet backbone.

Managed Multi-Service Networking was just one of a barrage of managed services unveiled by AT&T at ComNet 2000. Among the others were AT&T Managed LAN Utility, which offers LAN hardware, maintenance, asset buyback, fault management, design and implementation in one package.

Although the service is offered by AT&T, the initial version is largely a rebranding of Cabletron's GlobalNetwork Technology Services, an initiative launched by the equipment vendor last year to manage multivendor environments for customers with scarce capital or management resources.

Users will be charged only for the ports they use at a rate of "under $50" per active port, per month, according to AT&T.

AT&T also announced a server-monitoring service that provides continuous remote monitoring and proactive notification of specified service outages and events. Additionally, it introduced a managed ATM service that supports pure ATM enterprise nets, mixed WANs that employ frame relay-to-ATM interworking and inverse multiplexing over ATM.

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