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Covad: Serving the SMB via Hosted VoIP and Beyond


Covad (news - alerts) has made significant strides over the past two years in its move to become a household name as a provider of integrated voice and data services. Among the key technological achievements in the company's evolution was the announcement of their Voice-Optimized Access (VOA) technology, which was designed to enable a fully-managed, business-class offering on T1 and SDSL to over six million small businesses in cities from coast to coast.

Oftentimes, consumer-class VoIP products require the customer to 'bring their own access' and thus do not control the quality of the broadband underlying their voice offering.

Covad's focus on the SMB (which includes such elements as service-level agreements or SLAs, as well as business-class features) allows them to differentiate themselves from those 'bring your own access' consumer VoIP providers. Covad's field technicians and dedicated customer care are able to provide the immediate support that an SMB requires, especially if they don't have their own IT staff.

Covad offers a whole portfolio of VoIP solutions powered by the innovative VOA technology, which was designed to manage the quality of both voice and data services simultaneously, allowing customers to make multiple phone calls and access large data files at the same time, without sacrificing voice quality.

Covad's executive vice president of sales and marketing, David McMorrow, said "Voice Optimized Access unlocks the value of our facilities-based network and enables Covad to manage the voice quality over both the 'last mile' and our entire nationwide network.

"This strategic development demonstrates Covad's continued commitment to creating solutions that provide small-to-medium businesses with competitively priced, innovative communications services."

Covad VoIP provides the following features and applications: •  Find Me/Follow Me - Instant Call Forwarding.

•  Click To Call - Speed Dial with the Click of a Mouse.

•  Visual Voicemail - View, prioritize, and control voice and fax messages.

•  Fax Mail - Receive and forward faxes just like e-mail.

All of these features and benefits are easily accessible through a user interface known as a dashboard, which sits on the end user's desktop and makes it easy to increase efficiency and save administrative costs.

Covad has enjoyed success by offering their services over DSL, and in fact has evolved to become the nation's largest independent broadband provider. But as the market evolves and competitive threats arise from different quarters, it becomes necessary to innovate in order to maintain a competitive edge. To that end, Covad made a strategic decision to acquire NextWeb Wireless, a broadband wireless provider. The move enabled Covad to offer broadband voice and data services to businesses without the need to serve customers via DSL.

According to Charles Hoffman, Covad president and chief executive officer, "NextWeb expands our service area and offers us new, higher-speed broadband services than Covad can currently offer, and provides an alternative to the last-mile copper for delivering data and voice services to business customers.

"Wireless broadband is a perfect complement, not a replacement; to our nationwide DSL network," he added.

It should be noted that although Covad has made a big push with their hosted service, the company still offers PBXi, an alternative for the SMB that feels the need to exert some control and wants to retain their premises equipment. IT

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