WorldCom to Support Any-to-Any IP Links

MCI is expanding its MPLS network to support any-to-any IP links.

When you order a pizza from Pizza Hut, your request could go to a store, a call center or the company headquarters if you order online. With customer calls routed all over the country, NPC International Inc., Pizza Huts largest franchisee, wants to have all its 840 sites linked to one another by the end of April using Private IP Service from MCI.

"We dont necessarily know where an order is going to go when we take it," said Mike Woods, CIO at NPC International, in Pittsburg, Kan. "We like the any-to-any meshed network [of MCIs Private IP Service]. Instead of having a single static route, we can connect from anywhere to anywhere."

In March, MCI, the business name of WorldCom Inc., plans to launch additional services over its MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) network, which carries Private IP Service. New offerings will include hosted IP telephony and DSL access, both of which are in testing, said Jim DeMerlis, vice president of data and IP solutions at WorldCom. Later in the year, the company expects to enhance its customer portal to give users greater ability to monitor their network and generate reports, DeMerlis said.

Last week, WorldCom, based in Ashburn, Va., expanded the MPLS network to provide new converged services, such as IP multicasting and voice over IP. WorldCom touts the network as providing an easy and affordable way to migrate from traditional data networking to IP networking. IP multicasting is seen as a growing service for WorldCom, as companies increasingly seek to deliver corporate broadcasts and distance learning programs, DeMerlis said.

For the largest Pizza Hut franchisee, one of the advantages of Private IP Service is that it makes installing new applications faster and easier, Woods said. The company installed a business monitoring application to track store delivery times, and it deployed a credit card system that integrates authorization, validation and settlement using the companys internal software. Eventually, Pizza Hut plans to handle credit payment balancing and settlement at a central site, taking the burden off individual stores.

Pizza Hut, based in Dallas, started the Private IP Service deployment with its call centers last year because they had the greatest number of applications, Woods said. The installation takes about 20 minutes per site once WorldCom activates a circuit and a cable is extended from the demarcation point to the back office, he said. "In the future, we hope to expand the use of call centers to more and more stores to take the burden of answering calls off the stores," Woods said.