Sprint: Success hinges on converged network

A top Sprint executive says the company is combining its various networks in order to offer users a consistent experience, regardless of where they are or how they connect.

NEW YORK -- A top executive with Sprint Corp. told CeBIT America attendees that the company is making its customers' businesses more competitive by converging its networks to offer more consistent services, regardless of how users access the network.

In a keynote address this morning, Kathryn Walker, executive vice president of network services at Sprint, said that as businesses expand globally, they access corporate data through a broad array of devices that use multiple networks.

"It is the network more than anything else that is changing they way companies do business today," Walker said.

Anyone who is not thinking along these terms is out of whack with reality.


Michael Silverman
Director of IT, EvensonBest LLC

That multiplicity of devices is forcing carriers such as Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint to change their architectures. Walker said maintaining separate networks for voice, data, wireless and other services is no longer a beneficial approach.

To respond to calls for more integrated services and more visibility into the network, Walker said that Sprint is tying all of its networks together, enabling those that use local and long distance services, VoIP, wireless and data network services to transmit data over a unified network. That, she said, will provide users with a more consistent experience, regardless of where they are or how they connect.

"We need to be agnostic of location, device and network," Walker said.

That resonated with attendee Martin Silverman, director of information technology with New York -based furniture distributor EvensonBest LLC, a Sprint customer.

"Anyone who is not thinking along these terms is out of whack with reality," said Silverman.

Employees at EvensonBest travel extensively in the U.S. and Europe, and need constant access to e-mail and server-based information though a number of devices, Silverman said.

Attendee Michael J. Compoly, a technical services manager with Princeton, N.J.-based Factiva, a news resource company owned by Dow Jones and Reuters, said that his organization is using an increasing number of mobile services. It would be much easier to manage those services, Comploy said, if they were integrated with others, such as data and voice services.

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Walker also said that converging these services will help to provide end users with similar experiences, regardless of what devices they use to access the network or where they are on the globe.

That consistency in user experience is important, Silverman said, especially since end users are often not very technologically sophisticated. He said training them to use multiple interfaces is just not feasible.

Walker said that today's businesses are under increasing pressure to both cut expenses and enable greater efficiency through technology. Part of that is being done through outsourcing, she said, adding that the network is one of the keys to enabling businesses to outsource successfully.

A decade ago, she said, a T1 line cost a business $1 million. Today, Walker said that same line costs $60,000. With such a steep drop in the cost of connectivity, businesses and employees are no longer bound by geography.

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