BT and AT&T's joint venture, Concert, will let customers trial its managed IP service free of charge before deciding whether to ditch Frame Relay.
Concert Managed IP is the venture's first new service, launched at Telecom 99 in Geneva this week. Concert plans to spend $3 billion ramping up its global Frame Relay, ATM and IP coverage over the next five years.
Under the trial programme, customers will be able to experiment with the managed IP service without altering their existing Frame Relay connection, and pay only for their link to the local telephone network.
Frame Relay is good for high priority traffic, but expensive if used for low priority traffic like email. Managed IP lets customers pay less for low priority traffic and more for a higher quality service.
Aaron McCormack, Concert's marketing director, said managed IP is unlikely to have an immediate impact on Frame Relay and will only be used by early adopters for the first nine to 12 months.
"We don't see people ripping out Frame Relay and taking managed IP lock, stock and barrel," he said.
James Bennet, analyst at CIT Research, said a downturn in the Frame Relay market is not expected until 2003. By 2008, Frame will represent around 32 per cent of the North American market.
"Frame is not going to disappear. It's popular, widely available and can probably go places IP can't," said Bennet.
Concert still needs regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission before it can start operating.
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