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May 1999

rich.gif (5262 bytes) Enhanced Service Offerings For The Enterprise


Internet telephony technology is accelerating its penetration of the service provider market at space shuttle speed. Not only does Internet telephony equipment cost an order of magnitude less than traditional telco switches - Internet telephony inherently allows the addition of enhanced services. So next-gen telcos like Quest Communications (www.quest.net) have built networks based on IP telephony rather than the traditional circuit-switched networks of yesterday. Initially a carrier's carrier, Quest has recently begun to offer long-distance service in nine Western U.S. cities for 7.5 cents a minute.

How long can the major carriers keep relying on their mega-expensive, but ultra-reliable telephony equipment when a new breed of carrier is slowly encroaching on their once infallible market position? Relatively speaking, Quest had it easy - they built a single network entirely based on IP - no legacy equipment means fewer interoperability headaches. So what does a company like AT&T (www.att.com) do to compete? They obviously have to start building an IP telephony network, yet they still have a huge legacy network based largely on Lucent's (www.lucent.com) 5ESS switches. How, pray tell, do you get these circuit-switched behemoths to interoperate efficiently with tomorrow's packet-switched environment?

Would you believe the answer is relatively simple? At least for carriers with 5ESS switches. Lucent just introduced and AT&T is soon to trial Lucent's AnyMedia MultiService Module (MSM), an enhancement to Lucent's 5ESS that allows Internet telephony, voice over ATM, modem pooling, Internet access, xDSL, and frame relay. Additionally, all of these features can be bundled with features of voice services. As the 5ESS connects 110 million lines to the public network today, this announcement may prove to be the most significant contribution to the acceptance of Internet telephony in the service provider market to date.

All sorts of players are scrambling to provide enhanced services afforded by the infusion of IP into the public network, and the enhanced services game is an ever-changing one as new entrants come into the market almost daily. This is one of the reasons we launched a new services section in this magazine. Don't be mislead into thinking that enhanced services can only be sold by today's service providers, however. Guess who is the latest entry into the enhanced services field? None other than the post office. Not the U.S. Postal Service, mind you, but Israel's post office. This makes pretty good sense, as Israel is one of the world's major telecom and Internet telephony players. Using technology from CMR Communications (www.cmr.co.il), the Israeli Post Office will offer a fax-to-e-mail service. CMR also provides technology to support fax to fax, e-mail to fax, Web to fax, and fax broadcasting services.

Lucent, for its part, is not only enabling legacy network providers to become next-gen service providers, but is also getting directly involved in the service provider market, albeit indirectly. Lucent recently decided to invest $3 million directly into ITXC (www.itxc.com), a tier-one Internet telephony carrier. In this case, ITXC relies on Lucent's PacketStar IP gateways, as well as equipment from Excel (www.xl.com) and VocalTec (www.vocaltec.com).

Lucent isn't the only company invigorating legacy equipment with IP telephony capability. Nortel Networks (www.nortelnetworks.com) is also busy retrofitting much of their existing equipment. In fact, Nortel recently announced a new card - the Meridian Integrated IP Telephony Gateway (ITG) system - that will enable users of its Meridian 1 PBX (they call it a switching system) to route Internet telephony and fax. Initially, the system will support eight trunks per card, and will re-route calls over the PSTN when the IP network becomes congested. This feature is becoming more popular among voice/data switch manufacturers as well.

Meanwhile Cisco (www.cisco.com) is getting more and more involved in the enterprise voice market as a result of their recent acquisition of Selsius Systems. Cisco recently released CallManager 2.2, an NT-based voice/data switch (IP PBX) for the small or branch office environment. The switch supports H.323 and TAPI 2.1, can support 100 users, and allows the handling of voice mail through a GUI interface.

For those of you that subscribe to our weekly CTI or Internet Telephony newsletters, or monitor TMCnet.com regularly, you can see the number of announcements in the Internet telephony arena have increased dramatically as of late. 1997 was the year of hype for Internet telephony, 1998 was the year of M&A activity, and 1999 is the year of massive deployment of new products and networks. It is great to see that IP telephony announcements seem equally divided between the enterprise and service provider space. Internet telephony products increase efficiency and reduce cost in both environments.

To keep up to date on the latest announcements and activity in Internet telephony - both carrier and enterprise, be sure to come hear the free keynotes at CTI Expo, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington DC. On Tuesday, May 25th at 10 a.m. you will hear Peter Alexander, Cisco's senior director of enterprise marketing, Jim Courter, the president of IDT, and Tom Evslin, CEO and chairman of ITXC. On Wednesday, May 26 at 10 a.m., Barbara Reeder, the vice president of worldwide marketing at Lucent, and Dr. Peter Schiefer, the vice president of global product management at Siemens AG, will be speaking.

CTI EXPO To Feature Internet Telephony Heavyweights!

As I write this column, more than two months before CTI EXPO, the number of exhibitors is increasing daily. For the first time ever, the CTI EXPO exhibit hall will feature Cisco Systems, Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks, and Microsoft. Expect huge partner pavilions and that great trade-show excitement so typical at the last two CTI EXPOs.

As voice and data converge, it is imperative that you stay on top of the latest developments from these major players. CTI EXPO is the only show to bring these exhibitors to you, as well as 400 other exhibitors, and a full six learning centers focused on all the important topics you need to know about to further your career and your company's future. As of this writing, I have an advance list of companies that will be participating in the learning centers at CTI EXPO. There may be some modifications at the last moment, but this list should be close to perfect come show time. We should have at least six vendors per learning center by the time the show starts. Please see the white paper on the learning centers included for more information. The learning center lineup includes:

Internet Telephony: Nokia (www.viennasys.com), Cisco Systems (www.cisco.com), Motorola (www.motorola.com), IDT (www.idt.net), OKI (www.oki.com)

Voice/Data Switches: NBX (3Com) (www.nbxcorp.com), Praxon (www.praxon.com), Touchwave (www.touchwave.com), Lucent (www.lucent.com), Cisco

CLEC/ISP Enhanced Services: Lucent (IP Call Waiting), Netcentric (IP Fax) (www.netcentric.com), Wildfire (Virtual Receptionist) (www.wildfire.com), Tornado (Web Based Unified Messaging) (www.tems.com), Ericsson/Delta Three (Roaming IP prepaid calling cards) (www.deltathree.com), Mind CTI (www.mindcti.com)

Unified Messaging: AVT (www.avtc.com), Callware (www.callware.com), Telekol (www.telekol.com), Maisoft (www.maisoft.com), Nortel (www.nortelnetworks.com), Lucent (Octel Messaging Systems)

TAPI 3.0: AVT, Flexion, Mediasoft Telecom (www.mediasoft.ca), and Artisoft (www.artisoft.com)

I even have some great news on our Consultants' Corner, the area of the exhibit hall where you will have access to free consulting on various topics:

Internet Telephony: Kevin Yackley (kyackley@cts.com) is the president and founder of Millennium Telecommunication, a Southern California-based consulting firm. Millennium Telecommunication provides professional consulting and implementation services to large enterprise and carrier customers. Specializing in next-generation technologies such as compressed, packetized voice and Internet telephony, Mr. Yackley is one of relatively few professionals experienced in voice/fax/data convergence technology deployment. Mr. Yackley has been involved with large-scale network deployment for nearly 20 years - during that time, his specialty in leading-edge technology has surfaced through his work with customers and vendors, often helping vendors develop and improve their products through feedback from the market.

CTI Marketing: CT business developer, columnist, and speaker Martin Wales leads the marketing firm Business Results, which engineered the Momentum Marketing process for selling CT products and services in the marketplace. Working closely with his customers, Mr. Wales captures maximum market share by establishing customer relations beyond brand recognition. He also makes objective suggestions as a private contract specialist. He has worked in several marketing positions over the past ten years, with clients such as Coca-Cola, IBM, Bell Canada, Toyota, and American Express. Mr. Wales uses his marketing sense to motivate teams by focusing on the educational and training aspects of sales and marketing. He was trained through London Life, known as the best in the industry for their success in sales.

Compaint In Texas

Of course enhanced services often go hand in hand with local competition - unless of course you live in Texas, in which case you may get neither. At least that is what MCI WorldCom (www.mciworldcomm.com) said recently as they filed a complaint against Southwestern Bell Telephone Company with the Public Utility Commission (PUC). Further, they said that Southwestern Bell mishandled 85% of its test orders for 59 unlucky residents in Houston trying MCI Worldcom local service for the first time. The problems ranged from lost dial tone to static and cross-talk, to missing directory assistance listings. So much for local competition in Texas.

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