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Telco likes taste of own medicine.


Contel of Pennsylvania faced a problem similar to many companies: providing WAN-to LAN-communication between departments in separate buildings.

The Pennsylvania sales office, based in Hershey is five miles from division headquarters, which houses the marketing department's Token Ring local-area network.

Fast, efficient communication between sales and marketing is necessary if Contel is to provide the type of service required of telephone companies today.

Contel is meeting this challenge by using ISDN basic-rate-interface (BRI) service.

This provides inbound and outbound connectivity to the marketing department's LAN as well as to Contel's internal packet-switch network.

The ISDN portion of Contel's network is based on an AT&T 5ESS central-office switch.

Inbound access to a J&L model 32X ChatterBox server on the LAN is provided by a bank of Fujitsu SRS-300 and -400 ISDN terminal adapters, along with AT&T's 7500 terminal adapters configured to operate at 19.2 kb/s.

The Pennsylvania sales group and state operations personnel (consisting of approximately 30 employees) use Fujitsu's SRS-270D and AT&T's 7506 and 7507 ISDN telephones.

The phones are equipped with an asynchronous-data option to provide connectivity to the LAN server.

Shared Resource

The server acts as a shared resource for both the state sales group and the division marketing group directly tied to the LAN.

A Token-Ring-attached Contel 286 PC acts as a communications server for outbound calls.

Another bank of Fujitsu SRS-300 and -400 ISDN terminal adapters is used in a modem pool. The LAN server treats these Fujitsu terminal adapters as a group of very fast dial modems.

Contel's company-wide internal data network--CNS (Contel Network Systems)--uses packet-switching technology to connect corporate computers.

For example, all customer billing records are on a Honeywell mainframe, and a VAX host is used for corporate-wide E-mail.

Access to the packet network is provided by using the 5ESS central-office switch as a large data switch.

Once he places a call to the packet network, the user is prompted for a host destination.

CNS connects all locations throughout Contel, offering connections to various types of host computers.

"Before installing ISDN, WAN access to the LAN virtually didn't exist," says Kirby Cooper, inside plant engineer.

"The ISDN addition has effectively added wide-area connectivity to the local-area network, while enhancing our current CNS network."

Prior to adding ISDN to its network, Contel used limited-distance 4800-b/s modems for access to the CNS network, and 1200-b/s dial-up modems for the LAN.

Fast And Flexible

"We decided to change to ISDN because it offers more flexibility and speed than the limited-distance modems," says Rick Fox, information management analyst.

"It's simpler and less expensive to dial-access a host on the network with ISDN than with a dedicated point-to-point network topology.

"Additionally, changing to ISDN meant we could operate reliably at a higher average speed--19.2 kb/s--without requiring leased circuits."

The initial investment was minimal.

Contel already owned a 5ESS central-office switch that had been upgraded for a major customer.

The cost of the Fujitsu ISDN terminal adapters was comparable to that of the limited-distance modems.

The adapters cost less than either the limited-distance or dial-up modems.

Configuration changes were limited to reconfiguring the J&L ChatterBox server's software.

"Most of the problems were in the project's coordination, not the technology," says Cooper.

"We were fortunate in getting first-class on-site support from Fujitsu and the local LAN vendor (the Office Works)."

This is not the first ISDN venture for Contel of Pennsylvania.

The telephone company has long been talking to customers about what ISDN can do for them.

Contel of Pennsylvania participated in an internal field trial last October. It participated in a customer field trial in November.

"We knew about some of the benefits of ISDN through our field trials, and have been providing some of the services to our customer," Cooper says. "We've taken advantage of the same benefits for our own use."
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:ISDN User Strategies; Contel of Pennsylvania
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Previous Article:Customer service gains valuable tool.
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