Telewest rolls out VPN network for retailers

Telewest has introduced a low-cost network and telecoms service that enables retailers to link voice, data and video traffic...

Telewest has introduced a low-cost network and telecoms service that enables retailers to link voice, data and video traffic between branch and head offices.

Mabel Brooks, Telewest's senior product manager for data services, said the Internet Protocol-based (IP-based) virtual private network (VPN) service would suit businesses with four or more sites, right up to a company with a large branch office network of 800 sites.

"Typically, we see the service being deployed at 50 sites to link branch offices," Brooks said.

The service operates as a central node into which businesses connect their branch offices through leased lines. It uses Cisco Customer Edge and Provider Edge routers and multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) to provide differentiated network services. This gives voice and video network traffic a higher priority than standard data traffic.

Brooks said the Telewest IP VPN service would suit heavy users of ISDN, because the call charge on ISDN is "uncontrollable".

The telecoms company plans to extend the IP VPN service by linking it to other Telewest services, such as its Blue Yonder business portal. This would allow companies to rent software such as Microsoft Office through an application service provider model.

Brooks said another future service based on IP VPN would be an extension to Telewest's Endeavour portal for travel agents. Endeavour provides an online travel booking system, car hire and access to tour operator systems. The portal is designed for travel agents connecting through a dial-up Internet service. Brooks hopes to offer IP VPN to such users in future.

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