Juniper Networks is seeking industry-wide support for an initiative that would establish a unified set of standards for packet-based communications.

At the Telecom World conference and exhibition in Geneva, Juniper announced its Infranet Initiative, calling on telecommunication service providers, vendors and standards bodies to agree to a single framework for accessing networks and interconnecting them between carriers.

The goal, said Juniper founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Pradeep Sindhu, is to create a public network that combines the ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet with the assured performance and security of a private network.

Juniper envisages an infranet as a set of interlinked IP (Internet Protocol) VPNs (virtual private networks) that provide secure authenticated access and encrypted tunnels over an IP/MPLS (Multi-protocol Label Switching ) transport infrastructure.

Such an infrastructure, according to Sindhu, would support grid computing.

What's missing today, he said, are three important components: security, reliability and quality. The problem is that the industry is too fragmented, with competing companies supporting their own networking efforts.

"This isn't an anti-Cisco (Systems Inc.) initiative," Sindhu said. "We would absolutely welcome them to participate." Standards, he added, will result in a larger market for everyone, as it has with GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications).

The initiative has already gained support from Lucent Technologies and Norwegian carrier Telenor, according to Sindhu.