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March 2000

Greg Galitzine Voice Over DSL: It's More Than Just Talk 

BY GREG GALITZINE

Go Right To: Services News


Of all the promising new technologies this industry keeps churning out, Voice over DSL (VoDSL) is showing tremendous potential, based not only on technological merit, but on the business case it provides for service providers, most notably for Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs).

Originally conceived as a data-only transport mechanism, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology has been proven equally adept at transporting digitized voice, especially when coupled with ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode). ATM provides many of the quality of service (QoS) features that service providers are keen on -- and that's extremely important when the carrier is offering customers service level agreements (SLAs) that must be honored.

The key benefits of DSL are plain to see: "Always-on" connections to the Internet, blazing download speeds (especially when compared to the current state of 33.6 or 56k dial-up), and the fact that DSL uses existing infrastructure, namely the 800 million or so copper wire pairs deployed today. And VoDSL is poised to take full advantage of these benefits. Here is a short list of players to watch in this rapidly expanding field.

THE PLAYERS
Accelerated Networks
Accelerated Networks offers elements that can be found in all three key areas of a complete VoDSL solution, namely an IAD (Integrated Access Device) at the customer premises, a multiservice access platform or concentrator for placement in the local central office (can also be deployed as a regional PoP voice services gateway - for location in the CLEC's regional switching center), and a network element management system that is designed to scale for use in a carrier's network.
Recently, Cooperative Communications, a Belleville, NJ-based full service telecommunications provider, announced that they are deploying VoDSL service based on Accelerated Networks' technology. Having completed initial testing, Cooperative plans to expand the offering to thousands of subscribers in the coming months.

Accelerated Networks has also joined Lucent's Wired for DSL Program, having successfully passed the interoperability testing needed to qualify for that program. Accelerated's IADs (AN-20; AN-24/28; AN-30) and voice services gateway (AN-3200) passed muster in testing with Lucent's Stinger DSL concentrator. Lucent and Accelerated solutions both make use of ATM thus ensuring QoS across the breadth of the network from the customer premises all the way across to the backbone voice/data networks.

CopperCom
CopperCom's CopperComplete DSL architecture is geared toward small business and SOHO users. CopperComplete, much like Accelerated Networks' offering, encompasses the three major elements of a complete DSL solution: The CopperCom MXR, which sits at the customer premises, the CopperCom Gateway, which resides in the Central Office or regional switching center, and the CopperCommander, which is the company's Service Management Platform. The system enables up to 16 channels of voice, fax, key systems, PBX, etc to connect to the MXR, which then packetizes all the voice and data traffic over a single DSL line.

Last September, CopperCom signed a deal with Picus Communications to deploy up to six million DSL voice lines, at that time, the largest such arrangement. Picus, which is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, has their US headquarters in Hampton Roads, VA. The initial deployment calls for 126,000 lines in the eastern part of the U.S., encompassing Hampton Roads, Richmond, and parts of Northern Virginia, as well as the Washington, D.C. area. Subsequent deployment plans call for an additional 160 East Coast cities, including Baltimore, Raleigh, and Charlotte. According to Thomas Flake, executive vice president of business development for Picus, "The CopperComplete DSL products are the only ones that meet our stringent requirements for reliability and toll-quality voice." CopperCom is also a member of Lucent's Wired for DSL initiative.

Jetstream
Jetstream is another leader in the expanding VoDSL field. They too offer service providers all the necessary elements for a complete VoDSL solution. Comprising their solution are the IAD-801 (8-port) and IAD Flex (up to 24 ports) customer premises equipment, the flagship CPX-1000 carrier-class voice gateway, and the JET-EMS element management system. Squarely targeting the growing CLEC market, Jetstream has some considerable customer deployment - 21 customer trials as we go to print. Another important note is that the major telecom equipment vendors have all signed on to Jetstream's technology. Lucent, Nortel Networks, and Alcatel have all signed agreements to OEM elements of Jetstream's solution package.

One of the companies that has gone beyond testing into actual deployment is Network Plus an ICP (integrated communications provider) operating out of Quincy, MA. Targeting the small- to medium-sized business community in the Northeast corridor from New Hampshire to New York, Network Plus is among the first to actually deploy VoDSL services to their customers. Terms of the agreement, announced in Q3 of last year, call for orders totaling up to $10 million for deployment into the Northeast corridor with subsequent deployments of Jetstream technology into Atlanta and Florida.

Most recently, Jetstream announced that together with Promatory Communications, they have achieved a new benchmark for network reliability for VoDSL services. The announcement also focused on the ease of provisioning voice calls.

Promatory
Promatory has also seen its share of headlines recently. Hot on the heels of what can only be described as a successful OEM relationship with Nortel Networks, Promatory has agreed to be acquired by Nortel for up to $778 million. The OEM agreement called for Nortel to market, sell, and promote Promatory's IMAS (Intelligent Multiservice Access System). The IMAS is a broadband access system designed to deliver multiple services including voice, video, Internet, and data over DSL connections. And because IMAS contains within it a complete ATM switch, QoS is not a problem. Furthermore, IMAS supports multiple flavors of DSL including G.Lite, ADSL, SDSL, IDSL, and more line cards are expected in the future.

TollBridge Technologies
TollBridge Technologies is yet another major player in this burgeoning field. With their TB 50 IAD, which offers from eight to 24 lines, the TB 200 carrier local exchange gateway, and the TollView automated service activation and provisioning system, TollBridge Technologies offers a complete VoDSL solution. In fact, TollBridge released enhancements to their voice gateway system the day this article was going to press. Release 1.3 contains a host of powerful new carrier-class features, including system redundancy, load monitoring, dynamic load balancing, hot swapping, remote maintenance, and enhanced GR-303 capabilities.

Among the numerous companies deploying or trialing the TollBridge solution, Mpower Communications Corp. (formerly MGC Communications) was one of the first. Mpower is offering service to their customers in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, southern Florida, and selected areas of southern California.

CONCLUSION
One of the remarkable things about this growing segment of the industry is that the main players are all partnering with third-party equipment providers, especially vendors of IADs and DSLAMs (DSL Access Multiplexers). Thus customers are presented with a vast array of choices when selecting components for their service offerings. CopperCom, for example, runs the "Many Voices of DSL" partner program. The key goals of this program are to educate the market on VoDSL technology, provide participating vendors joint sales and marketing opportunities, and offer service providers a choice of interoperable solutions. There are currently 20 premiere partners enrolled in the program. Jetstream too has a partner program designed to accelerate interoperability among vendors. Over 30 partners (IAD vendors, DSLAM vendors, wireless vendors) have joined the program to date.

DSL technology may have been a bit slow to catch on at first, but this technology has gathered quite a bit of steam as of late. And, the VoDSL segment is growing rapidly as well. Between partners and trials and customer deployments, and a public that's hungry for broadband solutions, all the analysts come up with the same basic story: VoDSL is just starting to sprout, and there seems to be no end in sight when it comes to this promising technology.

Services News

Equant To Launch Global VoIP Service
Equant has announced plans to launch a fully integrated, global voice and data service over IP technology. Equant's new offering will be backed by global service level agreements, which means customers will gain high-quality voice and flexibility. Customers will be able to get any-to-any global connectivity, which speeds their voice and data traffic around the world because Equant's service does not require complex networks with point-to-point connections.
No. 540, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Nortel Networks, Sun-Netscape Alliance Create Service Delivery Solution
Nortel Networks and the Sun-Netscape Alliance plan to jointly develop a new directory-enabled solution that will allow Internet service providers (ISPs) and
application service providers (ASPs) to create new service bundles, deliver them more quickly, and manage them more efficiently. This proposed solution is expected to provide a standards-based framework for the fully-integrated delivery of next-generation applications and services. "Nortel Networks and the Sun-Netscape Alliance will use the directory as the framework for enabling service providers to deliver a whole new generation of services," said John Morency, executive vice president of Sage Research.
No. 541, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Broadmedia Announces freeTone Solution
Broadmedia has announced availability of the freeTone solution for Hewlett-Packard's Business Communications Server (BCS) platform. The HP BCS is a converged telephony solution for small- to medium-sized businesses and remote offices of larger organizations. The freeTone solution enables business users to apply their PBX systems and the Internet to reduce the cost of long-distance calling. It includes Broadmedia's G-Phone gateway, along with services covering installation, maintenance, Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring, upgrading, and call detail record reporting.
No. 542, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Mail.com, Net2Phone To Provide Internet Phone Service
Mail.com has announced a three-year agreement with Net2Phone. The agreement allows Mail.com members to make both domestic and international telephone calls over the Internet through their Mail.com e-mail account, saving up to 95 percent off the cost of traditional long-distance calls. In an ongoing effort to provide expanded communications tools to its member base, Mail.com will integrate Net2Phone's "Click2Talk" technology into the address book of its mailboxes, allowing members to place Internet phone calls simply by clicking on their address book entries.
No. 543, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Convergys Announces Catalys
Convergys announced the availability of Catalys, a new solution created specifically for ISPs for both the domestic and international markets. Catalys is a real-time, client-server solution that is available via licence, or to be fully outsourced and managed by Convergys in its data centers. Catalys is part of the Convergys Connections Family, a series of next-generation information and customer relationship management solutions. The Catalys solution, whether licensed or operated in a Convergys data center, will support the rollout of new and complex IP services via its flexible pricing and rating capabilities.
No. 544, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

eGain Adds Two Customer Solutions To Commerce 2000 Platform
eGain Communications announced it has added two customer communication channels - eGain Voice and eGain Inform - to its comprehensive line of eCommerce customer communications solutions. Built on the eGain Commerce 2000 Platform, eGain Voice (Web-based voice communications) and eGain Inform (Web self-service) are tightly integrated with eGain's other customer communications solutions -- eGain Mail (e-mail management), eGain Live (real-time Web collaboration), and eGain Campaign (outbound digital marketing).
No. 545, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Spike Technologies Wins Oxford Telecom Contract
Spike Technologies announced that it has been awarded a contract from Oxford Telecom for its HighPoint 2.5GHz System, to be deployed in Portland, Maine in the first quarter of 2000. Oxford will use this system to provide high-speed two-way services such as Internet access, virtual private networks (VPNs), data vaulting, and a wide array of e-commerce applications to business and residential customers in the Portland area.
No. 546, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Linx Partners With Telegea.com
Linx Communications announced a strategic partnership with TeleGea.com. Under the terms of the agreement, TeleGea will co-brand Linx's LinxConnect one-number service as subscription-free products that are provisioned and sold to customers directly via its Web site. TeleGea will co-brand Linx's unified communications services as part of its pioneering suite of online offerings which include long distance, international calling, Internet access, and on-the-road business services.
No. 547, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Cydoor Technologies Teams With deltathree.com
Cydoor Technologies and deltathree.com are joining forces to integrate Cydoor's services into deltathree.com's PC-to-phone utility. The integration will allow PC-to-phone users to shop and interact with special offers while they are talking over the Internet. The deltathree.com PC-to-phone product gives users the ability to conduct a call from a multimedia PC to any regular telephone.
No. 548, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

RangeStar Intros Embeddable "Wireless Cable"
RangeStar Wireless has unveiled a new embeddable Bluetooth antenna suitable for a host of wireless applciations. About the size and thickness of a penny, RangeStar's new V-Pol Omni antenna will make it easy and cost-effective to embed a Bluetooth antenna into any consumer electronics device, including wireless phones, printers, laptop computers, and handheld organizers. Bluetooth antennas will enable users to connect these devices via wireless short-range radio links unimpeded by line-of-sight restrictions.
No. 549, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Phone.com and BuyNow.com Offer Transactions From IP-Enabled Phones
Phone.com and BuyNow.com, announced an agreement to deliver e-commerce services to Internet-enabled mobile phones through the Phone.com MyPhone service. This collaboration is designed to allow network operators to realize new e-commerce revenue streams by offering their MyPhone subscribers the opportunity to purchase books, videos, music, computer hardware, and software products using their Ineternet-enabled mobile phones.
No. 550, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Panasonic, Net2Phone Create New Phone
Panasonic announced a cooperative agreement with Net2Phone to integrate Internet-based phone service in future Panasonic consumer telephone products. The "One Touch" Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service allows consumers a choice on the same phone between regular long-distance phone service or low-cost Internet-based long-distance service, simply by pressing a button on their phone. Panasonic will provide a telephone that can transmit both public-switched and IP phone calls. Instead, the Panasonic phone transmits the voice signals directly over the Internet utilizing Net2Phone's network and technology.
No. 551, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Cooperative Communications Delivers VoDSL
Accelerated Networks and Cooperative Communications, a full-service telecommunications provider, announced that Cooperative has selected Accelerated Networks for its voice over DSL (VoDSL) service deployment. Deciding factors in the selection were Accelerated's ability to support both DSL and T1 access facilities, and the solution's streamlined architecture. Cooperative has completed initial testing and first office applications, and is beginning deployment. Over the next 12 months, Cooperative expects to deploy Accelerated's VoDSL solution into a number of collocations serving up to thousands of subscribers per site.
No. 552, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

RADCOM Announces GPRS Monitoring And Analysis Solution
RADCOM Ltd. announced that its line of protocol analyzers is the first in the industry to provide full support for GPRS, the next-generation IP convergence solution for cellular networks. Several leading GPRS vendors use RADCOM's leading edge decoders to monitor all GPRS interfaces and links. RADCOM estimates that sales to the convergence cellular market will exceed $1 million in 1999 and will grow rapidly over the next two years as GPRS moves into full industry deployment.
No. 553, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Fiberlink Program Lets Clients Implement Advanced Network Services
Fiberlink, the leading network-independent Enterprise Services Provider (ESP), announced the roll out of its Strategic Deployment Services (SDS) program. Fiberlink's SDS is a cost-effective, multi-phase program that guides clients through the entire development and deployment process for their Internet-centric solutions to ensure that their business systems run smoothly and efficiently. The SDS program enables corporations to leverage their existing IT infrastructure with a full range of customized remote access, Internet and security services including Global Remote Access, managed Internet services, firewall design and deployment, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). By working with Fiberlink instead of multiple vendors, customers also have the advantage of a single, dedicated point-of-contact for their entire enterprise.
No. 554, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Nortel Networks To Acquire Promatory
Nortel Networks announced a definitive agreement to acquire Promatory Communications, Inc., a leading developer of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) platforms for high-speed Internet access, for up to an estimated $778 million in Nortel Networks common shares, a portion of which is contingent upon Promatory achieving certain business objectives. This acquisition will give Nortel Networks first-mover advantage in taking DSL technology to next-generation intelligence and performance, making high-speed Internet access deployable wherever a home or business has a telephone connection.
No. 555, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

iBasis' iTrac Provides Analysis Of VoIP Traffic Quality
iBasis announced iTrac, a Web-based service that provides customers up-to-date information about the international voice and fax traffic they send and receive using the iBasis Network. iTrac enables communications service providers to improve their network planning, respond more quickly to market opportunities and maximize revenues. iTrac (Interactive Traffic Analysis Center) provides customers with interactive analysis tools and critical data about their iBasis Network activity, including the total minutes of voice and fax traffic, total number of calls, call completion ratios and average call duration. iTrac data is organized for analysis by country of origin and termination. By analyzing their global VoIP traffic with iTrac, iBasis customers can streamline their network planning processes and optimize their utilization of voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) and the iBasis Network, the world's largest international Cisco Powered Network for Internet telephony.
No. 556, www.itmag.com/freeinfo







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