WorldCom's voice-over-IP service will include several options that will be rolled out in many phases, Briggs says. Customers can keep existing voice switches and eliminate per-minute voice charges, while others can directly integrate voice packets onto their IP LAN.
The latter example would require a SIP-enabled device such as a server, but WorldCom says all versions of the service will not require customer premises equipment.
"The service will take cost out of the enterprise using SIP servers," Briggs says. "We are going to offer a whole set of value-added features oon top of that where we can basically replace the PBX and Centrex functionality." Other service features will include dynamic user registration and universal messaging. Customers with SIP phones can plug the phone into any wall jack, and they are automatically registered on their corporate nets, he says.
WorldCom is not supporting the new service over its UUNET IP network, but over its vBNS+ network, which was built for academic use, says Lisa Pierce, director at Giga Information Group. That decision is interesting in that vBNS+ is based on the IPv6 protocol.
IPv6, which uses a 128-bit addressing scheme, supports an almost limitless number of uniquely identified systems on the 'Net, vs. IPv4, which supports a few billion systems with its 32-bit addressing scheme. IPv6 also offers easier administration and tighter security.
WorldCom would not comment on how IPv6 may be used to support the service, but Giga's Pierce says if the service becomes popular in the next few years, WorldCom will need the surplus of IP addresses that IPv6 provides.
WorldCom is using the vBNS+ network to accelerate the service launch, but will soon integrate service support to its other IP networks.
WorldCom did not reveal what type of performance or response-time service-level agreements it will offer, but Linbeck's Gay says his company would want stringent SLAs. "We're a longtime MCI and WorldCom customer and went through a tough time when the two companies merged," he says. He says the mean time for repairs would be at the top of Linbeck's list if the company were to buy the service.
After hinting at voice-over-IP services last year, WorldCom's first voice-over-IP offering will be available at month's end. WorldCom should introduce more options by year-end. Pricing is not yet available.