Bharti, Cisco Muck With Managed Services

Indian operator Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) is teaming up with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) to roll out a suite of managed network services for enterprises over the next two years. (See Bharti, Cisco Partner.)

The carrier will phase in a range of services, starting with MPLS VPNs, which will also include Cisco's TelePresence product as part of an audio and video conference offering. (See Cisco Rolls Out TP.)

As a member of Cisco's Managed Services Channel Partnership, Bharti is apparently the first Asia/Pacific operator that gets to boast Tier 1 certification for its MPLS service and certification for its TelePresence Connection capabilities.

Bharti is India's largest mobile operator, with 61.98 million subscribers at the end of March. It counted 2.28 million fixed-line customers in 94 cities, and also offers enterprise services including MPLS VPN, private leased circuits, audio and video conferencing, data center services, and centrex. Its national long-distance infrastructure comprises 73,787 kilometers of optical fiber and over 1,000 MPLS and SDH POPs (points of presence).

Bharti reported a 50 percent year-on-year increase in revenues from enterprise services in the first quarter, and is looking to boost its MPLS business by 50 to 60 percent this financial year.

"Our aim is to be an end to end managed services provider for Indian enterprises - move beyond network management to offer and provide converged application services on business critical networks," said David Nishball, Bharti's president of enterprise services, in a statement.

Both domestic carriers and international players like BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) are focused on addressing the growing demand for data services from Indian enterprises and the multinational companies that have set up shop in India. (See BT, AT&T Set Sights on India.) Managed services provide a way for carriers to drive up revenues by moving beyond basic bandwidth offerings to handle a customer's complete communications system, from equipment and servers to applications that run over the network.

The Bharti/Cisco combo follows a deal announced Monday by Reliance Communications Ltd. (RCom) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) to form a joint venture that will eventually target fixed and mobile operators and large enterprises worldwide with managed services. (See AlcaLu, Reliance Form Joint Venture.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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