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.
The extension of corporate PBX features for telecommuters expands the company's virtual communications services. Earley described the service as an Internet-based extension of the corporate telecommunications capabilities to remote locations.
"This capability allows an end user to be able to use a PC and a telephone from any location in the world to be able to get into their PBX and turn the phone sitting next to them into basically a PBX virtual extension," Earley said. "So you now have all the calling capabilities sitting either on your home phone, your hotel phone or your cell phone. It means tremendous productivity (gains) for remote workers."
The new SLAs promise business customers 99.99 percent network availability; a maximum 60 millisecond round-trip domestic latency; a maximum 120-millisecond trans-Atlantic latency; and a maximum 0.7 percent packet loss per month.