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Sprint CEO touts ION strategy

CEO William Esrey is working to build momentum for his company's primary thrust: to build a new network that can handle voice, video, and Internet using a single pipe.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada--Long distance player Sprint is banking on an integrated communications future, and is putting in the cash up front to make sure it's prepared.

Sprint's chief executive, William Esrey, is working to build momentum for his company's primary thrust: to build a new network that can handle voice, video, and Internet services using a single pipe.

The network, called the Integrated On-demand Network (ION), has so far been a triumph of marketing over substance, according to many, highlighted by recent admissions from Sprint that only seven large customers are using its new services.

But in a keynote speech today at the Network+Interop conference in Las Vegas, Esrey continued to highlight his company's investment in ION, touting the 26 cities the network now reaches. He added that corporations could save as much as 25 percent in the long-term if they choose to outsource much of their network operations to Sprint.

The chief executive also stressed that communications companies that add distinctive services on top of high-speed networks will be able to separate themselves from the pack.

"Those who add the most value reap the biggest rewards," Esrey told a packed hall. "Adding intelligence to data is the business of the future."

Esrey also demonstrated new broadband services for the home and small business based on ION, as well as a Service Node technology that can turn any type of traffic into asynchronous transfer mode, or ATM--one of the dominant technologies in the Sprint ION network.

The company also unveiled a new computer interface for businesses to access advanced services such as video conferencing. Additionally, Sprint rolled out a new strategy that will allow firms to rent software applications that would then be delivered across the ION network.

In conjunction with Sprint's applications hosting thrust, a new consortium dedicated to furthering the market for centralized delivery of applications across a network was officially rolled out, as previously reported.

Data equipment giant Cisco Systems is one of the founding members of the organization and also happens to be the primary technology provider to Sprint.