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In the CEO Spotlight section in Internet Telephony® magazine, we recognize the outstanding work performed by exemplary companies. Each month we bring you the opinions of the heads of companies leading the Internet telephony industry now and helping to shape the future of the industry. This month, we spoke with Leigh Belden President and Chief Executive Officer at Verilink Corporation.


GG: What is Verilink’s mission?

LB: Verilink’s mission is to become the partner of choice for next-generation broadband access solutions. In this leadership role, our company is focused on solving the issues of “last mile” associated with the bandwidth bottleneck and enabling the delivery of ubiquitous high-speed broadband communications. We develop products that enable service providers to profitably deliver broadband services today, while offering them a strategic path to migrate their networks to support tomorrow’s technologies and next-generation services. These products include Integrated Access Devices (IADs), Optical Transport Systems, Wireless Access Routers, CSU/DSUs, DACs, and Inverse Multiplexers. The services supported by our broadband product line include TDM, Frame Relay, VoATM/VoDSL, Ethernet over SONET/SDH, and VoIP. Our products support standards-based protocols, technologies, and management capabilities needed for deployment in today’s access networks while being at the forefront of technology needed for tomorrow’s networks.

GG: What is your vision for Verilink and how is the company positioned in the next-generation telecom market?

LB: Founded in 1982, Verilink was the pioneer of CSU/DSU and other technologies associated with T1 access. With over 20 years of experience in a fast-moving industry, we have learned how to continually evolve our technology and products to meet emerging requirements. From a new generation market standpoint, Verilink will continue to focus on some of the highest growth segments of the broadband access markets including Voice over IP, Ethernet Access, and Wireless. Supported by a turnkey professional services organization, our company will continue to provide solutions to our carrier customers designed to improve their ability to serve end customers with new and differentiated services while enhancing their business model and profitability.

We have a wide range of products and technologies that are enabling the future of broadband services. Today we are leading the VoIP access market with our 8000 Series IAD, supporting both SIP and MGCP. We maintain broad interoperability partnerships with all leading companies in the space — softswitch and feature application servers, media servers, gateways, session border controllers, etc. Going forward, we will apply this same leadership philosophy to develop solutions that support future technologies, including multimedia offerings such as Triple Play.

From a geographic standpoint, Verilink is addressing the worldwide market through our presence in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Our strategic partnerships with leading telecommunications equipment manufacturers like Alcatel, Lucent, Nortel, and others who specify and deploy Verilink products as part of a total network solution, give us a broad, global reach.

GG: What is it that sets Verilink apart from your competition?

LB: Several things. First, our 23 years of experience in the business provides us with an operational edge. We are an established company with a strong global channel base and consistent track record in delivering innovative products to both large and small service providers and enterprises around the globe. Over the years we have gained an in-depth understanding of the challenges and operational requirements of our customers.

Second: product breadth and depth. We have a broad portfolio of access solutions. Since there is no such thing as a “one-product-fits-all” solution, Verilink offers a range of products to address a range of technology and application requirements.

Third: a seamless migration path to new services. Our products are unique in that they work with present day networks and provide a path to deliver next-generation services, typically through remotely configurable software settings.

And finally: our professional services offering. We have a professional services group that partners with carriers to assess their present mode of operation, and make process improvements that drive profitability. Additionally, we help them introduce new services, from network planning to technology evaluation, to deployment and service turn-up.

GG: Now that it appears that growth and opportunity are the trends in the VoIP industry, what possible hurdles do you see that might upset this momentum?

LB: Personally, I don’t believe the momentum will be upset, but I do think there could
be many hurdles ahead. Regulation remains one of the wildcards in the future of IP telephony, but I believe governments will try to address regulation in a way that favors adoption of competitive services and fosters further innovation.

Consolidation is a hurdle the industry will likely face, based on the disruption that is typically created as a result. As carriers and service providers position themselves strategically to have a stake in all lines of business — with business and residential offerings, wired and wireless, voice, data and video — consolidation, and therefore disruption, will be inevitable for the foreseeable future. This will present some challenges for the equipment and vendor community, companies like Verilink, who innovate on behalf of these service providers. For the consumer, the challenge will be in evaluating and rationalizing new service offerings and service plans that best meet their needs. In the end, however, I believe it will all benefit the consumer with a rich set of services and better overall value.

GG: What are some of the technology areas where Verilink is increasingly focusing, and why are these areas important to the future of your company?

LB: VoIP is clearly an important technology area for Verilink, and we have invested heavily over the past several years to put ourselves in the leadership position we are today. In other packet-voice areas, VoATM and VoDSL are also important technologies given the broad penetration and continuing growth of DSL deployments on a worldwide basis. Ethernet over ‘X’ access is another area of focus for Verilink, given the ability to now extend Ethernet from the LAN to WAN and its attractive, low price-per-port. Wireless is another area that is strategic to Verilink, as mobility becomes an increasingly important requirement. And finally, video technology, as the industry evolves to Triple Play. From a technology perspective, Verilink plans to stay at the forefront of all of these important and emerging areas.

GG: Describe your view of the future of the IP telephony industry.

LB: I believe the future IP telephony business will be radically different from today’s telecommunications business as we know it. There are many facets of the business that will inevitably change, driven by technology advancements, industry consolidation, convergence of wireless and wired communications, and an explosion of new services. At the carrier and service provider level, with increased competition for subscribers and market share, the service provider market will shakeout through a natural consolidation.
IP being a data transport standard, will open the door to new entrants from the likes of software companies and hosted service providers. This is an area where I think there will be a lot of change in the industry. This will introduce the possibility for location-based services, unified messaging with e-mail and voice mail, IMS, find-me/follow-me services, and video conferencing via the Web, areas that will be visible to the consumer. The potential for new services and improvements in communications is enormous.

And on the equipment side, we’ve all witnessed the convergence of the cell phone and the computer in a new generation of smart phones. This convergence, I predict, will continue and will blur the lines between fixed and mobile communications in the future. Our goal at Verilink is to play a leading role in this exciting future. IT

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