October 09, 2002, 4:45 PM — WorldCom Inc. is offering a new program to sell converged voice and data service to businesses, the company announced Wednesday. The new program, called WorldCom Connection, will consolidate local, long distance and data traffic on WorldCom's global IP (Internet Protocol) network.
The new program replaces an earlier voice-over-IP (VoIP) program called IP Communications that WorldCom launched in 2001, and is designed to appeal to a wider range of businesses, according to Barry Zipp, senior director of product marketing at WorldCom.
"The best way to describe WorldCom Connection is that it's a hosted IP communications portfolio. The call control signaling equipment and overall intelligence of the system reside on our network versus having that equipment installed at the customer site," Zipp said.
The new program will offer companies simplified network management and billing, in addition to standard features such as call forwarding and call screening, he said. The company is also promoting the security features of the program such as firewalls enabled with SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and network address translation (NAT) that protect IP-based voice traffic as it travels in to and out of a company network, according to the statement.
Companies that sign on for the new service may continue to use analog phones, as well as digital private branch exchange (PBX) equipment, or can migrate to a pure IP network that uses SIP, according to the WorldCom statement.
WorldCom provides analog phone users with an analog-to-digital converter produced by Mediatrix Telecom Inc. Companies using PBX equipment would need to add a gateway to their network that would direct calls forwarded from the PBX to phones connected to the office LAN, according to Zipp.
For companies that are willing to make the transition to pure-IP telephony, WorldCom supports desktop IP phones produced by Cisco Systems Inc. and PingTel Corp. It will soon announce support for a third IP phone vendor, Zipp said.
The announcement, which coincided with this week's Voice on the Net Conference in Atlanta, is the latest in a string of announcements from Telecommunications companies and VoIP vendors regarding new products and services.
Verizon Communications Inc. announced in September a new VoIP service called IPT Watch, which allows customers to determine how much of their IP voice service Verizon can manage -- from hardware to more comprehensive quality of service agreements.
On Monday, Sprint Communications Company LP announced new VoIP capabilities for its Coral Communication System. The new program will give companies the ability to link multiple PBX systems over managed IP networks, Sprint said.
For financially troubled WorldCom, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, the new program is seen as a step on the road back to solvency, Zipp said.