Metro Ethernet providers to offer VoIP

By Michael Martin, Network World |  Networking

Customers of metropolitan Ethernet providers Telseon and Cogent could soon be getting voice services in addition to big bandwidth, thanks to separate deals the companies cut with telephony application service provider TalkingNets last month.

The deals will let Telseon and Cogent offer TalkingNets' softswitch-based voice services to their service provider customers and potentially to their direct small and midsize business customers.

TalkingNets currently offers voice-over-IP services through service provider partners in Denver and is expanding to 25 cities across the U.S. by the second half of next year, says Mark Costner, vice president of marketing.

In any market it serves, TalkingNets would have a softswitch, a feature server, which provides telephony features, and a media gateway, which connects the TalkingNets network to the public switched telephone network. TalkingNets uses service provider Level 3 to interconnect its network.

Telseon and Cogent can offer voice-over-IP services in markets where the metropolitan Ethernet providers and TalkingNets have a presence. Costner says the companies overlap in many markets, including Denver.

There are two advantages customers can get through TalkingNets' voice-over-IP services, Costner says. The first is price. For basic dial tone service, Costner says customers will see a 15% to 25% savings over what they're paying their incumbent local exchange carriers.

The second benefit is features. Through its feature servers, TalkingNets can offer customers higher-end services, such as Centrex and autoattendant, normally associated with larger companies.

Customers have two options for handsets. They can continue to use standard analog phones and plug them into a voice-over-IP gateway, or move to IP phones, which can be connected directly to a company's LAN.

Counse Broders, an analyst with research firm Current Analysis, says on the high end, WorldCom and AT&T are letting enterprise customers transport voice-over-IP calls across private backbones. On the lower end, Broders believes TalkingNets is offering smaller customers interesting options. "They really seem to have gotten things right in terms of pushing feature functionality instead of price savings," he says.

Smaller businesses can get PBX-type functions by using TalkingNets, Broders notes. For instance, if an end user was in a meeting but expecting an important call, through a Web browser the user could set the phone to forward all calls except the one the user was waiting for to voice mail.

TalkingNets: www.talkingnets.com

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