GST Network Carries Internet, Voice, Data

Next-Generation Network is Tomorrow's Technology Today

GST Telecommunications, a Vancouver, Washington based company with local offices in Hacienda, has completed the first phase of its Virtual Integrated Transport and Access (VITA) network, which combines GST's voice and data networks onto a single platform.

The VITA network is now available throughout the company's West Coast backbone, including Hacienda.

According to Steve Hensley, GST's vice president of engineering, the new network offers a variety of advantages to customers.

Telecom: The Next Generation

VITA's basic advantage is simple: since voice and data can be carried on the same network, all the network's features are available at any point on the network.

"When I come into a new city, I don't have to build out the data network, build out the voice network, build out another network," he says. "I walk in on day one with my entire portfolio of products, just like I had a central office there."

While the infrastructure is in place, Hensley admits that the potential of the network has not yet been fully tapped.

"There are numerous and very profound services that can be offered, but to date we are still offering the same services that the industry has been requesting," he explains. "There's a lot of things we can do, but very candidly, nobody's really requesting them yet."

He expects businesses to begin clamoring for connectivity once they see what's possible, however.

"In the near future, we will have a number of new products going out that will require an integrated network and would be impossible otherwise," he says.

Web-Based Traffic Monitoring

Hensley gives one example of the capabilities of the new network, a diagnostic tool currently used internally by GST which he expects to be offered to their customers as well.

He gives the example of a company which orders a high-capacity (or high "bandwidth") connection. "We would be able to give you access to that particular connection on a secure web page so that you could monitor the statistics you could look at the throughput (volume of network traffic) each way, you could see if it was congested, you could see all kinds of things."

Such accurate traffic characterization tools and the ability to combine voice and data traffic on one "pipe" can save their customers money, he observes.

"As we look at things, we find that the busy hour for voice traffic happens to be at a different time of day than the busy hour for data," he says. "So suddenly, I don't have to have as much bandwidth available to me because these two peaks occur at a different time of day."

The Internet, Part II

GST is also playing a key role in the National Test Optical Network Consortium, a group of telecom companies, research facilities, and private industry led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which is creating the Next Generation Internet (NGI) project.

"DARPA is sponsoring it, the sponsors of the first Internet," says Hensley. "It's going to be a substantially larger, faster network, and once the bugs are ironed out of it, it will be rolled out (to the public)." GST will be utilizing the VITA network as the West Coast backbone for the project, serving as the access point to the backbone for each of the organizations conducting research on the network.

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