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SBC tests packet network

A Baby Bell has come up with a scheme that could relieve data traffic pileups on the Internet.

A Baby Bell telephone company has come up with a scheme that could relieve data traffic pileups on the Internet.

SBC Communications chairman and chief executive officer Edward Whitacre, Jr., today said that the company, more commonly known as Southwestern Bell, has introduced a technology that will effectively split its network into two traffic lanes: one for traditional voice calls and one for Internet data calls.

Whitacre announced the technology, called Internet/Intranet Transport Service (IITS), at a meeting of financial analysts in California today.

The SBC technology comes at a time when telephone companies, including Pacific Telesis and Bell Atlantic, are beginning to complain that Internet connections are beginning to clog the phone network. The companies argue that the exploding demand for Internet access and the length of most Internet calls risks overwhelming their networks, causing more and more busy signals for customers.

SBC uses the Internet Thruway technology from Northern Telecom to create what Nortel calls the nation's first virtual private dial-up data network.

Collectively, the Baby Bells have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to make Internet service providers pay more for infrastructure upgrades.

Now, SBC has come up with a solution that could take some of the burden off the phone network. The IITS service will redirect all Internet traffic onto a special packet network, which will deliver data more efficiently than the switched phone network. Voice calls will no longer compete directly with Internet traffic on the SBC network.

"This is the breakthrough for which customers have been yearning--a virtual fork in the phone network that will empower them with faster, more reliable Internet connections," said Van Taylor, president of technology resources for SBC in a statement issued by the company.

SBC has been testing IITS for several months with ISPs in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. It has also sold the service to ISPs in other areas of Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.