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French press agency communicates via worldwide X.25.

Timeliness and reliability are critical elements of effective news coverage. At Agence France-Presse (AFP), the oldest news agency in operation today, three million words are dispatched around the world each day.

The press agency employs 2,000 staff members and 2,000 stringers, operating in 129 countries and six languages. These employees rely on a sophisticated communications network to provide up-to-date news from all over the world.

Headquartered in Paris, AFP operates a network to carry both text and scanned images as digital signals to and from its bureaus and correspondents around the world. The AFP network is organized into major regions to coordinate information among remote bureaus. These regions are linked with 64 kb/s lines in a delta configuration between Paris, Washington, D.C., and Hong Kong, with a link to Nicosia, London and Frankfurt.

AFP uses Codex 6500 Series X.25 packet assemblers/disassemblers (PADs) and switches in its remote bureaus to provide access to the local X.25 public network. This equipment also connects to an Infonet network to reach one of the regional centers and access AFP's private X.25 network.

Stephane Guerillot, communications manager at AFP, says, "We were previously running a multiplexed network with Motorola Codex 674X series statistical multiplexers. As our networking structure has grown and evolved, we installed 6500 series X.25 equipment with the muxport capability to extend network capacity."

Remote X.25 equipment is attached to various editing centers where Codex 3266 high-speed dial modems provide backup for permanent circuits.

"We have portable scanning equipment used for transmitting photos and the 3266 modems will provide dial transmission to the appropriate editing centers," says Guerillot.

Approximately 150 scanners attached to modems feed data into the editing centers. Journalists and photo editors receive the information, which is then ranked and dispatched in order of significance to various collection points around the world.

News agencies, newspapers and all types of broadcast media worldwide comprise the bulk of AFP's customer base. These customers need information 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, and they rely on prompt and accurate dispatches from AFP.

According to Guerillot, AFP's communications network concentrates two main information services: straight news and financial data. AFP's success depends on the continuous operation of the network, where seconds lost can mean a decrease in credibility to its customers.

Guerillot selected the 3266 series high-speed dial modem because it can be managed by the 9800 Network Management System. Guerillot will use the 9800 to manage his modems, muxes and X.25 packet switches and PADs to ensure timeliness and increase productivity.

The 9800 will remain in Paris. It is an OSI-based system capable of managing multiple technologies. From a central location, one person can configure network components and view the status of multiple sites on the network.

"We want to increase our reliability and decrease our costs," Guerillot adds. "Motorola Codex is helping us to do that as we work together to form new cost-efficient network architectures."

In the future, Guerillot expects to see the role of the stat mux decrease.

"We are seeing migration from stat muxes to X.25 packet switching. As more third-world countries gain access to our network, we will use X.25 to maximize access, diagnostics, rerouting and computing capabilities among the remote bureaus.

"The way we edit data will change," Guerillot concludes. "We are prepared to remain flexible in order to meet the needs of our customers."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Packet Switching/X.25; Agence France-Presse
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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