WorldCom Offers Frame Relay Packages

WorldCom announced two new frame relay packages aimed at helping businesses transmit data in ways that fall outside of standard frame relay practices.

WorldCom Inc. on Wednesday announced two new frame relay packages aimed at helping businesses transmit data in ways that fall outside of standard frame relay practices.

Those new offerings are WorldCom Bundled Frame Relay and Economy Frame Relay packages.

Frame relay sends packets, or frames of information, through a series of switches over a wide area network. It is used to connect LANs, systems network architecture, Internet, and voice applications.

"Frame relay is definitely in a more mature part of the lifecycle," said David Natho, senior director for data services for WorldCom, in Clinton, Miss. Frame relay customers are past the early adopter stage, he said, and they want to buy the services differently. Hence the new offerings, which fall between standard packages usually offered as standard frame relay or managed frame relay offerings.

"Youre kind of going into the gray area in between those two services," said Meg Moschetto, WorldComs senior manager for data services.

Natho described the new Bundled Frame Relay as "connectivity-level pricing." It is aimed at small- to mid-sized businesses, often ones that are late adopting frame relay technology.

Under traditional pricing customers pay a monthly recurring charge for each port and each circuit in their network. The customer also would use its own money to buy and maintain its own hardware. Under the bundled plan, customers get a port, circuits, and WorldCom maintained customer premise equipment for one flat monthly fee, which could save them money compared to traditional connectivity methods, officials said.

"What were doing is making that simplified for them, they get one price per location," said Moschetto.

"The key here is that . . . we pre-configure, pre-set up that device," she said, "so we sit down with a customer, we understand what they want their configuration to look like, and we ensure that configuration is defined, set-up in the device. Thats typically only been found in the managed services type of offering."

The WorldCom Bundled Frame Relay package provides unlimited PVCs (Permanent Virtual Circuits, or logical connections between site A and site B) and bandwidth ranging from 56Kbps to 1.5 Mbps with "over-subscription" of up to 200 percent for e-mail and point-of-sale functions. Contracts are for one or two years.

The device comes pre-configured according to parameters agreed upon between the sales rep and the customer. "When it comes in, all they basically have to do is plug it into the wall and get some power into that thing, it turns up and its configured to the specifications of the customer," said Moschetto.

Prices are pre-set, said Moschetto, with no haggling or negotiation. Other than potential savings projections over standard frame relay packages, WorldCom did not provide eWeek with any price parameters for the services.

Economy Frame Relay is a more basic package that includes local network access, local-to-global frame relay service, special service level guarantees, and short-term contracts of one, two or three years. It is aimed at larger enterprises seeking running lower bandwidth (56Kbps) bursting-data applications, such as point-of-sale transactions, on a secure network.

In addition to being more responsive to customers needs, companies no longer need go to multiple local exchange carriers to connect locations, said WorldCom officials.

The new frame relay packages are available immediately in the United States.

Other competitors in the frame relay space include Cable & Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and Verio.