AT&T launches VoIP portfolio

By Margret Johnston, IDG News Service |  Networking

AT&T Corp. on Tuesday said it is offering voice over IP (VoIP) retail services
for business, allowing the combination of voice, fax and data traffic on a single
integrated IP connection managed by AT&T.

AT&T announced the VoIP offering here at ComNet, along with several other
announcements, such as the opening of new AT&T Internet data centers in
Washington and Dallas, an extension of corporate PBX features to "telecommuters,"
an OC-48 dedicated access for content providers and improved network service
level agreements.

The VoIP services are available immediately with AT&T's managed Internet
service (MIS) and its managed router service (MRS), said Kathleen Earley, president
of data and Internet services for AT&T.

"These new voice over IP services will really provide customers with flat-rate,
all-you-can-eat monthly pricing plans within the U.S.," Earley said. With
the new offerings AT&T is "staking a claim to voice-over-IP as one
of the applications that is going to drive the VPN (Virtual Private Network)
space."

The VoIP MIS offer allows customers to connect with AT&T's common IP backbone
across the country and around the world, while MRS with VoIP leverages AT&T's
Frame Relay service to connect VoIP-enabled locations in more than 40 countries,
Earley said.

"The significant difference here ... is we have customers up and running.
We have had these customers up and running since the middle of the year,"
she said.

Among the customers that participated in the trial are Pulver.com, Tower Automotive
and NCR Corp. For the NCR trial AT&T installed MIS with T1 connections and
routers at NCR locations in Maryland, Ohio and Georgia. The routers were pre-configured
to prioritize voice traffic with quality of service and engineered to use the
public switched telecommunications network (PSTN) as automatic backup.

AT&T laboratories worked with multiple vendors to create an architecture
for smooth connectivity between the voice-enabled routers, the OC-48/OC-192
backbone and the PSTN.

Earley said the voice over MRS offer is a "prem-to-prem" play (premises-to-premises)
that does not incorporate hop-off capability, but will in the future. The voice
over MIS service does offer hop-off capability domestically as well as internationally,
she said. Both services use the H.323 protocol with AT&T Fast Connect capability.
AT&T will support the SIP (Sessions Initiation Protocol) in upcoming announcements
as soon as the standard becomes generally adopted, Earley added.

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