Intermedia Offers Bandwidth Options

VIENNA, VA. (03/16/2000) - Popular frame relay carrier Intermedia Communications Inc. is tapping a maker of high-end integrated access devices in preparation for the launch of a new type of high-speed frame service.

Intermedia will install access concentrators from Advanced Switching Communications (ASC) that create frame relay links at intermediate speeds between T-1 and T-3, the two companies announced last week.

As a result, Intermedia will be able to offer enterprise users a range of frame relay options from 64K-bps to 12M-bps.

ASC's MultiStream switches for the carrier point of presence are among the first to implement the Frame Relay Forum's Multilink Frame Relay (MFR) specification, ratified last September.

MFR defines a way to combine multiple T-1 frame relay interfaces so they appear as a single traffic stream to the network.

As a result, network managers can choose intermediate speeds - known alternatively as NxT-1 or fractional T-3 - for high-traffic sites without having to divide their branch-to-host traffic into separate T-1 clusters or choose a more expensive T-3.

Specification support

Some switch vendors have previously implemented their own version of multilink frame relay. But the MultiStream gear from Vienna, Va.-based ASC is designed to provide interoperability via support of the MFR specification, also known as FRF.16. Intermedia has gained much of its data business through network-to-network interfaces with other frame relay carriers, particularly regional Bell operating companies that are barred from carrying traffic beyond local boundaries.

MFR is frame relay's analogue to the older inverse-multiplexing-over-ATM standard, which likewise provides a choice of NxT-1 options. In fact, ASC's MultiStream gear supports ATM, in-cluding standards-based inverse multiplexing, as well as frame relay.

But by incorporating the parallel frame relay option, analysts say, carriers such as Intermedia that employ the ASC boxes can get a bigger punch in the marketplace for users who'd rather stick with frame relay as they move up the bandwidth chain.

Intermedia:; ASC:

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