Bellcore reports telephone networks in danger of data overload
By Jessica Davis
Posted at 1:36 PM PT, Sep 3, 1996
Telephone networks are struggling under the burden of Internet data traffic,
and consumers may face some loss or interruption of telephone services unless
the networks are upgraded, according to new research from Bellcore, the
research and development arm of the Baby Bells.
The volume of Internet traffic "poses an immediate threat to the capacity of
the public switched telephone network," Bellcore said in a study released last
Telephone networks that were designed for three-minute voice calls now have
to carry data connections that remain connected for hours at a time. As the
growth of dial-up Internet service continues, the telephone networks may face
even heavier demands.
"The [telephone company] executives have been talking about it for a while,"
said Jeffrey Kagan, an analyst with Kagan Telecom Associates, in Marietta, Ga.
"When you keep a circuit open for hours at a time, it ties up network
Dealing with load problems may mean higher prices for some data customers.
"There has to be a pricing structure that allows people to pay based on what
they use," Kagan said.
Telephone companies may charge a base rate that entitles the customer to a
certain amount of "free" connected time.
This would ensure they meet the universal access requirement, which assures
access to anyone that can afford a phone number. Extra time over the base use
would be charged by the hour or by the minute, Kagan speculated.
However, local-access providers will have to pay to solve the problem before
they begin to charge higher prices.
Telecommunications vendors are eager to exploit the market opportunity
created by the Internet's pressure on telephone networks. Many are offering
new products, services, and expertise to help local-access providers put
together network architectures that can carry large volumes of voice and data
For example, remote-access vendor Shiva Corp. entered the market through a
partnership with telephone company equipment provider Northern Telecom
In recent weeks, Nortel announced the Nortel Internet Thruway. The product
works in a multivendor switching environment to "groom" long-duration data and
Internet calls off the voice network to a separate data network, minimizing
the impact of the traffic on the voice network and allowing carriers to offer
new services to data users and data-use resellers.
This system enables carriers to generate new revenue from virtual private
network dial-ups while providing a higher grade of service to Internet users,
telecommuters, Internet service providers, and businesses, according to
Clarence Chandran, Nortel's president of public carrier networks.
Bellcore is launching a new consulting service targeted at local telephone
companies around the world that "are looking for ways to help assure that
their networks perform reliably as the Internet access traffic they carry
grows exponentially," according to Bellcore.