Canadian communications gear maker Nortel Networks has landed key projects in China designed to make Internet protocol virtual private network (IP VPN) services more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses. Telecommunications carriers China Telecom and China Netcom will deploy Nortel's latest IP VPN-enabled firewall, router and switching products in nine mainland provinces to help deliver secure broadband Internet access, content and services. Nortel officials did not provide financial details of the projects. Robert Mao, president and chief executive at Nortel China, said on Wednesday that China Telecom would use the Shasta 5000 broadband services node (BSN) in the municipality of Shanghai, at the Beijing Research Institute, and in Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou, Zhejiang and Hunan provinces. Liaoning Communications and Heilongjiang Communications, provincial branches of China Netcom, will deploy Shasta 5000 BSNs. 'Shasta 5000 BSN will allow China Telecom and China Netcom to aggregate subscribers onto a single platform, while positioning them to offer new, network-based broadband services, and to drive significant reductions in operational costs,' Mr Mao said. He noted that the Shasta 5000, the first network-based firewall system to gain industry-standard certification, would also help China Telecom and China Netcom business customers protected against so-called denial-of-service virus and hacker attacks. Research firm International Data Corp (IDC) recently reported that IP VPN has become a mainstream technology that so far remained immune from lingering global sluggishness in demand for information technology (IT) products. IDC analysts Jason Smolek said: 'IP VPNs are attractive for their low cost, ubiquity and the flexibility they provide in simple connectivity.' Companies that deploy IP VPNs or subscribe to such network services do not need to build private lines between their sites. And for organisations with multiple sites, this represents huge cost savings in terms of capital and time. An IP VPN is also an excellent vehicle for getting a company's online business started as business processes can be linked without resorting to expensive IT infrastructure investments. Global revenues generated from IP VPN equipment sales by vendors such as Nortel and Cisco Systems are forecast to more than triple to US$7.5 billion in 2005 from US$2.3 billion in 2000. Routers and firewalls account for the largest share of the IP VPN-enabled equipment segment. Together, they will account for more than 70 per cent of the segment's revenue through 2005. Mr Mao also said that Nortel's Shasta 5000 product supports networks such as subscriber-to-operator wholesale dialing, digital subscriber line (DSL), fixed and mobile wireless, metro optical and Ethernet extension, asynchronous transfer mode frame relay, and leased-line communications. 'Shasta 5000 BSN is designed to power the subscriber edge of the network, where 'last mile' technologies like cable and DSL meet the Internet backbone, and where broadband subscribers meet broadband content and services,' he said. 'Value-added services that operators can tap include individual profiles for bandwidth and application handling, network-based IP VPN for business customers, video conferencing, telephony, movies on demand, online gaming and custom Internet firewalls.' China Telecom also planned to deploy Nortel's Passport 7000 and 15000-series multi-service switches at the Beijing Research Institute, as well as the Passport 8600 routing switch in Shaanxi.