Teleglobe Joins MPLS Fray

QOS could see big boost

Teleglobe has become the 21st large network to deploy Multiprotocol Label Switching in the core, aiming to launch new services ranging from virtual private networks to interprovider VPNs.

At the core of Teleglobes MPLS strategy lies software developed by Orchestream. The software enables the carrier to remotely program routers to support MPLS parameters so that traffic encoded by a customer in a certain fashion doesnt get "dropped" because one router on its path doesnt "know" how to read individual packets.

Teleglobe executives believe this technology will make it possible for them to configure MPLS routers and edge devices on other carriers networks to enable exchanges based on MPLS labels and types of traffic.

But analysts say that MPLS-based peering agreements that would make the public Internet capable of carrying business-grade applications that require better-than-best-effort delivery quality are still eons away. For now, intercarrier agreements for specific applications, such as VPNs, are more economically viable.

Teleglobe — the third largest backbone in the world, according to Probe Research — is celebrating the technological feat of deploying MPLS directly over the IP core. MPLS functionalities allow Teleglobe to launch a range of new services that require quality-of-service (QOS)-type prioritization that public IP networks cant support.

The interprovider capability will come after other MPLS-based ser-vices are launched, executives say. "Now that we can go between different autonomous systems that we own, the next step is to establish this capability with other companies that are more on a regional basis," says Randy Ivey, Teleglobes executive director of IP engineering and operations. "It could be characterized as MPLS peering, but this is interprovider VPN capability or interprovider MPLS."

Technically, an interprovider exchange such as the one Ivey describes could be used as the basis for many-to-many carrier peering, if all the carriers involved could agree on the exact nature of MPLS parameters peered and schedules for their settlements in different countries.

The chances of that are slim, experts say. Which means that ser-vices such as MPLS-based IP VPNs may not be transparent across multiple backbones.

"When will this happen? When pigs fly," says Brownlee Thomas, a Giga Information Group analyst.

The hang-up is in the business realities of telecom, analysts say. Carriers such as Teleglobe and others with MPLS-powered services — including AT&T, Global Crossing, Infonet and Level 3 Communications — have no financial incentive to do many-to-many peering.

"You pay by class of service, and every carrier defines class of service differently. So what you have to do is go one by one in each country with each carrier partner and find together what you will agree to treat as class of services," Thomas says.

Its easy to see how this system wont scale. And until it does, enterprise customers that buy QOS-enhanced services will have to keep in mind the geographic reach of their provider and its interconnection partners.