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WAN vendors and carriers launch muiltservice standards body

Interoperability specs to speed network roll-outs, increase competition and lower prices, promise players

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Cisco, MCI WorldCom, Lucent, BT, Nortel, Ascend and other WAN equipment vendors and telcos have agreed to form a body to oversee the development of interoperability standards. The Multiservice Switching Forum (MSF) will utilise standards already developed by the likes of the ATM Forum, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Frame Relay Forum and the ITU, and work out ways of bringing them together. The goal, said MSF spokesmen, is to allow service providers to build multiservice networks, combining ATM, frame relay and IP to handle voice, video and data traffic, without having to certify each element. They also claimed the standards would heighten competition between vendors and so push down prices. The MSF said its expects initial proposals for a multiservice network architecture and the Virtual Switch Interface protocol, designed to allow independent devices to control switches, should see fruit within nine months. Future specifications and standards could be defined within 12-18 months. ®

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