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One-stop telecom shopping.

In the past, consumers would make several stops at different, specialized stores to buy simple necessities, such as food, furniture, and auto parts. Now, in the days of shopping malls, department stores, and discount warehouses, consumers can save time, money, and gas by shopping at a single location for all their needs.

Similarly, businesses traditionally turned to specialized service providers for leased circuits for voice, data, and Internet service. Today, however, telephone companies are becoming network multiservice providers and offering businesses bulk-rate discounts when they integrate their voice, data, and Internet services.

Morgan Interactive, a San Francisco-based developer of interactive educational software products, is one of a growing number of businesses benefiting from the use of a multiservice provider. Through its cast of animated characters, including Morgan the Inquisitive Chimp, the company's software gives elementary schoolchildren entertaining educational lessons in which they can actively participate.

Morgan conducts business around the world, which results in large telephone bills. The company's communications facilities gradually evolved over three years, starting with voice lines from the local exchange carrier and an international discount calling plan, then adding a separate telephone line and a dial-up analog modem for data transfers.

As Morgan Interactive became more successful, its relationship with the Southeast Asian company that was massproducing its software intensified. Phone bills began to skyrocket, because of the increased frequency of telephone calls and the daily exchange of multi-megabyte files containing short movies in Macromedia Director format with associated animation, art, and programming code.

"When we are in full production, the average daily download is between 5 and 10 megabytes," says Jan Sager, director of operations at Morgan Interactive. "An average file is 450 kilobytes, and a large single download can run to 3.5 megabytes."

Realizing it needed a higher-speed and higher-bandwidth solution, the company contracted with its ILEC to connect a higher-speed, 56 Kbps ISDN line for its data transmissions. Unfortunately, the ISDN service did not provide enough bandwidth. Transferring large files still took hours, which meant high service bills.


The company decided that the best solution was a dedicated 1.55 Mbps T1 line for Internet connectivity -- but the cost would exceed its budget if the T1 were to be used solely for Internet. Morgan decided to combine its voice, data, and Internet services over the line to make it more affordable. The T1 line provided plenty of bandwidth for a mix of voice and Internet services without the company having to lease additional lines.

Morgan used T1 Integrator, an integrated-access device for the small-office environment from a startup company, Vina Technologies, Fremont, Calif. Vina's T1 Integrator performs the functions of a channel bank, IP/IPX router, multiplexer, and firewall in a single-box.

"It was the only product to bundle so much in one box," says Sager. "The device was half the cost of purchasing multiple products from multiple vendors to get integrated access. And since we are not large enough to have a dedicated information-services staff, the system's ease of installation and management was ideal for our office."

For the cost of one T1 circuit, Morgan receives 24 channels that are used for a combination of voice and data. The business eliminated its expensive ISDN line and reduced its use of analog lines for local calls, which lowered telephone bills.

Morgan configured the T1 Integrator with eight long-distance lines and a 128 Kbps Internet-access line. Based on current rates for local analog voice and Internet access circuits, Sager estimates a monthly savings of 10% to 60% over previous costs (depending on the services used), resulting in a full payback on the company's hardware investment in less than one year.

"We also like the ease of flexibility and scalability," Sager says. "Our service provider has already conducted several software upgrades remotely, and the process was painless."

Through remote Simplified Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Morgan's service provider is able to remotely change circuit allocation or add circuits as the company's requirements change.

Scalable built-in features can be turned on or off depending on the needs of the network. With an optional firewall, Morgan can provide security for sensitive data accessed through the network. The system can also dynamically allocate IP addresses through dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP), eliminating the need for manual allocation by internal MIS support.

When Morgan Interactive is ready to scale up to frame relay services for its data communication, the integrated access solution can also provide that type of access, with its built-in frame relay assembler/disassembler feature.

With integrated access, Morgan Interactive can afford high-speed Internet access and provide the convenience of a single bill for its voice and data communication services. "It's really one-stop shopping for our communication services," says Sager.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Company Operations; Morgan Interactive's T1 solution to consolidate Internet. voice and data traffic
Publication:Communications News
Date:Feb 1, 1998
Previous Article:High-gear networking.
Next Article:Managing info-mania.

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