Internet protocol consortium targets ASEAN carriers

Von Lawrence Casiraya

A newly-formed industry consortium of communications services providers and technology companies wants major carriers in Southeast Asian countries, including those in the Philippines, to join its goal of establishing a single, global IP (Internet protocol) network.

Established earlier this year, the IPSphere Forum aims to establish standards among its members as it advocates interconnection between major global carriers into a single IP network, rather than operating multiple independent networks.

Members include carriers like British Telecom (BT), Korea Telecom, and Telstra as well as major hardware providers like Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Alcatel, and Ericsson. HP, IBM, and software maker Oracle are also part of IPSphere.

US players Verizon and SBC have recently been added as members while Japan"s NTT will join an IPSphere meeting this October in an ?observer role,? said Kevin Dillon, IPSphere?s chairman and vice president under the CTO Office at Juniper Networks.

?We will recruit members from the largest carriers in Southeast Asia,? Dillon said in a regional media briefing during a Juniper event here.

IPSphere will announce a reference implementation later this year, intended as a showcase of how networks from various parts of the world can offer services that can be accessed within a common IP network.

BT is spearheading this implementation with at least two yet-unnamed Asian carriers. ?It will show how content can be negotiated within the three operators using Web services architecture,? Dillon said.

From IPSphere?s perspective, the benefit of a single IP network is essentially allowing broader access to telecom products and services. Standards, though, have to be in place before operators are able to collaborate using Web services architecture.

?Traditional telcos have been trying to fund private IP networks. But greater emphasis on general purpose networks is driving decisions of major carriers around the world,? Dillon said in his presentation before reporters from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Dillon said this approach relatively benefits smaller carriers such as those in Southeast Asian countries, which have made investments in building IP-based networks. He sees software as an important tool, rather than a need for further hardware investments.

In an interview, he said carriers in the Philippines like Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. can benefit from joining a single IP network by being able to direct content to numerous Filipino communities abroad.

?There seems to be a lot of content that is of entertainment value. Other applications like videoconferencing or IP-based voice services? also high-value transactions like money transfer or e-commerce,? Dillon replied when asked what kind of content is suited for Philippine carriers.

One challenge for Asian carriers, Dillon said, is how to offer access to users in other networks ?outside of their jurisdiction.? ?We"re still about 12 months away before we can see some commercial applications using the single IP network model.?