Sirocom has launched a new service that offers retail comapnies a single network to support applications and IP telephony.

The Retail Application Network "is a multi-carrier network running from southern Europe to the UK. What we’re offering is a single network replacing a variety of different retail applications meaning that a merchant should have considerable cost savings," said Dave MacFarlane, chief technology for the virtual network operator.

A retail organisation might have a mish-mash of different systems including chip-and-pin verification, IP CCTV or batch transfer to head office, said MacFarlane, so it is hard to say how much an organisation could save by consolidating its systems. But, he estimated that it would be at least 20 percent of network costs. "Organisations should be paying no more than £300 to £400 for set-up costs."

MacFarlane dismissed claims that RAN, which is based on Cisco equipment, could be vulnerable to failure as all functions are now run off a single network, "If there was a failure, we have 2.5G and 3G back-up and will switch to that if necessary."

The company has already signed one customer, British sports retailer JD Sports. Peter Atkinson, operations director for JD Sports said: "Adopting Sirocom’s RAN service for our next generation network was a simple decision - it allows us to streamline business processes and reduce costs, whilst investing in innovative technologies that will elevate us above the competition."

MacFarlane said that the system would be particularly useful for companies looking to comply with the PCI standard for protecting credit card data.

The virtual network operator is looking to bring out a series of similar products for other vertical sectors. The company already has pharmacy and hospitality products in the pipeline.