VPN - Access Medium Options

The IS MPLS VPN was created in 2000. This robust , fully meshed network that has been
designed and “built” to be AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video, and Integrated Data)
compliant. The network has seen great positive organic growth over the past few years.
The MPLS VPN is proving to be both a cost effective and critical business tool to many of the
IS customers who make use of this service.
It is currently a very exciting time for the IS online community, as well as the ICT industry as a
whole. On 2 September 2004, Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri made the following announcement:
Choice in the Provision of Value Added Network Services - Currently, value added
network services can only be provided through Telkom therefore we need to provide
“I have now provided that” - As of 1 February 2005 value added network services
may also be provided by means of telecommunications facilities other than those
provided by Telkom and the Second National Operator or any of them.
Further to this, on 22 November 2004, the minister provided clarity around the ability of VANS
providers to self-provision. It was made clear that such VANS providers could in fact self
provision and that IS’ interpretation of the announcement on the 2 September 2004 was further
Alternate access mediums available to the MPLS VPN
IS has built the MPLS VPN to ensure that it can support a multitude of access mediums as
means of connecting to the MPLS VPN.
These changes in the telecommunications legislation have allowed IS to maximise the MPLS
VPN offering with many positive changes taking effect.
With this continual growth of the network, as well as a workforce that is consistently becoming
more mobile and disparate, one of the ever increasing requirements is to have a “medium
independent” network.
At present, the MPLS infrastructure allows a customer to gain access to the network via the
following mediums:
IS Diginet Lines
Diginet Lines (Leased Lines) are a permanent telephone connection between two points set up
by a telecommunications carrier. Typically, leased lines are used by businesses to connect
geographically distant offices. Unlike normal dial -up connections, a leased line is always
active. The fee for the connection is a fixed monthly rate. The primary factors affecting the
monthly fee are distance between end points and the speed of the circuit. Because the
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connection doesn't carry anybody else's communications, the carrier can be assured of a given
level of quality.
ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) is a digital transmission service for high bandwidth
requirements providing speeds from 8 Megabits per second up to 155 Megabits per second.
The service provides a medium for companies to transmit high volumes of virtually error -free
information at high speeds over their last mile. ATM is a cell relay, packet switching protocol
which provides data link layer services that run over Layer 1 links.
MetroLAN is a Layer 2 service on the Telkom Metro Ethernet Network that provides point-topoint connectivity between customer sites. It is a service aimed at medium and large,
corporate, global and government enterprises that have the need for a network of high
bandwidth connections between their multiple branches. MetroLAN will be offered as a cost
effective alternative to ATM with added benefits such as higher bandwidth offerings and
convenient multipoint connectivity. Customers have a choice of bandwidth ranging from 4Mbps
up to 600Mbps on their MetroLAN, and will specify the bandwidth on a per site basis.
Bandwidth on the Metro Ethernet network is scalable in small increments and additional
bandwidth can be added to services relatively easy without any hardware upgrades
Neotel Fibre Services
This product offers point-to-point national connectivity for data and v oice networks via
secure and dedicated circuits with minimum latency and optional of full redundancy. Aimed
at SME and corporate clients, this connectivity can be used for continuous high volume
data transfer. The NeoLink product is available in SDH or Eth ernet interfaces and is offered
from 2Mbps upwards, in 2Mbps increments.
NeoMetro E
This product offers point-to-point national connectivity for data and voice networks via
secure and dedicated circuits with minimum latency and optional of full redundancy. Aimed
at SME and corporate clients, this connectivity can be used for continuous high volume
data transfer. The NeoMetro E product is available in an Ethernet interface only and is
offered from 10Mbps upwards.
*This product is only available 1.5km from t he fibre ring in a metropolitan area.
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With the introduction of a SNO(Second Network Operator) in the South African Telco
market, IS as a Telco and Medium agnostic service provider is now able to offer the client
both commercial and redundancy benefits from a last mile connectivity perspective.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a new modem technology that enables an
ordinary telephone line to reach speeds up to 4096kbps (over 18 times that of a dialup
connection). It is another connectivity technology that transmits data at a high bandwidth
speeds on existing copper telephone lines to homes and businesses. The ADSL system makes
use of your existing telephone line and splits the signal into voice communications and high
speed data connection. ADSL is capable of simultaneously offering voice information on the
same line.
The WiNet service from Internet Solutions (IS) forms an integral part of IS’ last mile wireless
replacement offerings. WiNet operates in the unregulated Indust rial Scientific and Medical
(ISM) spectrum range, specifically in the 5.8 GHz band where customers can quickly and
inexpensively leverage new or additional access services, since wireless solutions are
inherently scalable – growing organically with customers’ needs, without any additional
infrastructure costs.
Wireless last mile solutions offer cheaper access largely due to the fact that equipment costs
are more affordable than those of similar services provided over fibre or leased lines. Wireless
networks are fast to install, easy to maintain, and offer attractive options for network
redundancy - a critical part of any corporate disaster recovery plan.
Up till now, the legislation has precluded the landing of satellite bandwidth within the borders
of S.A. unless such a service was procured from the PSTN (Telkom) or the SNO. IS has an
agreement with Sentech to provide connectivity via VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) to
any site that may have this requirement. This service is used typically where there is no
Diginet service available nor IS’ W ireless coverage. It is also used typically for backup where
the primary connection medium is unstable.
Cellular: HSCSD, 3G and GPRS Services
IS has been testing with a number of technologies such as 3G, GPR S and HSCSD for alternate
access mediums into a corporate environment. IS has a fully enabled GPRS PoS (Point of
sale) service up and running with the back -end integration into the banks for (EFT) Electronic
Fund Transfer. It is envisaged that as these tec hnologies further evolve, different access
mediums will become available at a lower rate. IS currently has connectivity directly into MTN,
Vodacom and Cell C for the provision of such services.
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As can be seen from the services listed above, IS has taken th e opportunity granted as a result
of the recent announcements seriously. The ability to procure higher bandwidth speeds at a
lower cost is in IS’ interest as it allows for IS to take full advantage of VOIP and the provision
of such services without being wholly dependent on the incumbent Telco. Now, more so than
ever, IS is committed and has the financial reserves available to take full advantage of the
recent changes in legislation.
We believe that the ability to give customers the choice of accessing the MPLS VPN via the
most appropriate access medium for their requirement is certainly a benefit.
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