BT's strategy for pushing frame relay into the mainstream received a boost this week with the announcement of a major hardware deal with Motorola.
BT's data and information services division will immediately start selling Motorola's frame relay access device (Frad) products as part of its Framestream service, alongside network design, installation and management services.
Frame relay only became a mainstream BT offering, rather than a value-add service, after the company agreed with Oftel to publish its tariffs for the first time in June.
But the delay in offering frame relay as a standalone product has cost BT some marketshare. Other UK operators, including Cable & Wireless and Energis, have had similar deals in place with Motorola for over a year.
The loss of marketshare is not very much, and the market is still very young, according to Howard Hines, head of technology services at the BT division. "Frame relay was kept in the customer services business too long," he said. "But the outcome now is absolutely right."
Before the policy change, BT only used frame relay for creating large networks for customers. A major UK financial services company has a 1,200 node frame relay network installed by BT using Motorola's Frad products.
Frame relay is now available to the mainstream market, said Hines. "Now anyone can phone us," he said.
Framestream competes directly with BT's established high speed network service, SMDS (switched multimegabit data service). BT has several hundred SMDS customers in the UK, but says it expects them to migrate to frame relay in the long term.
"SMDS has fulfilled a need in the market, and still that need exists. In the long term we'll see migration to frame relay," said Hines.
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