Gabriel Network Promises Lower Costs

ST. LOUIS (03/15/2000) - Gabriel Communications Inc. started offering voice, Internet access and virtual private network services in 1998 so its customers could get one bill from one provider.

The idea was a lot simpler than setting up the network.

But now the company has settled on a network design that handles voice and data on a single platform, resulting in lower network costs for Gabriel. Those savings can be passed on to customers, the company says.

Initially the company deployed a Nortel DMS class 5 local voice switch to handle voice traffic, and a Lucent PSAX ATM switch to handle data. "We took a traditional approach," says Jerry Howe, Gabriel's president.

In reality, Gabriel had no choice. The multiservice switches it wanted to use were not yet available. Vendors were talking about them, but had nothing Gabriel could install.

The traditional combination of switches was expensive, occupied a big footprint in expensive collocation space in local carrier switching offices, and required diverse expertise from Gabriel staff.

As a result, both switches will be replaced in future rollouts by a multiservice switch - the Tachion Fusion 5000, which can handle traffic bound for voice phone networks, data networks or the Internet. "We're looking at the Tachion switch as a way to cap our investment in DMS switches and we are working on a migration strategy to move all services to the (Fusion 5000)," Howe says.

The Tachion switch saves up to 50 percent off the price of buying separate voice and data switches, Gabriel says.

All Gabriel customers get T-1 access. Gabriel installs a Vina Technologies integrated access device (IAD) at customer sites to aggregate voice and data traffic onto the T-1 link.

The company is also considering use of digital subscriber line and IADs made by other vendors as access technology. DSL requires the company leasing space in local carrier switching offices to take in DSL traffic and backhaul it to Gabriel's network. The first DSL offerings will roll out this summer, with 175 collocations set up by year-end.

Howe says Gabriel was drawn to the Tachion switch because Tachion supported voice-call features over a data network better than traditional data-switch vendors that were trying to add voice did. Similarly, Tachion built its switch as a replacement for traditional voice switches as opposed to the voice-switch vendors who want to add data features to their switches.

The company is up and running in seven cities: St. Louis, Kansas City, Missouri, Springfield, Missouri, Wichita, Kansas, Little Rock, Arkansas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City.

Gabriel: www.gabrielcom.net.

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