Qwest announces voice over IP service for enterprises

Qwest Communications International Inc. announced that it would begin rolling out a voice over IP network service to a handful of cities in July, expanding it to an additional 22 cities, including Washington, by year's end.

James F.X. Payne, senior vice president of the government services division, said the Denver-based company plans to offer the service to government customers through its FTS 2001 contracts.

'The government began realizing, as much as 18 months ago, that the concept of separate products focused on local and long distance service may be arcane,' Payne said. With long distance rates heading toward 1 cent a minute and less, 'you may be spending more time managing the call details than can ever be justified by cost savings.'

He said the flat rate, network-based service requiring no customer premises equipment would eliminate the need for much of that management.

The service, called OneFlex, will require only IP capable handsets and a broadband connection to Qwest's network. It can be added as another service by existing data service customers.

A Web interface will let customers point and click to select services, including conference calling, adding and dropping uses and voice mail. Services will be handled by the Qwest back office, rather than by an on-premises switch or public branch exchange.

Tony Bardo, senior director of Qwest's civilian agencies sales and marketing, said a number of agencies have been testing VOIP on a local basis. He said availability of a managed service on a national network should jump-start adoption of the technology.

'The future is this,' Payne said.

But voice over IP will co-exist with circuit switched service for the foreseeable future. He said initial implementations could come from customers who want redundancy in communications, with the economical VOIP as a primary telecom service, with a traditional circuit-switched service for backup.

Pricing has not been released, but it will be on a per-seat basis.

Initial deployment is set for mid-July in Boise, Idaho; Denver; Minneapolis and Phoenix. It will be available by the end the year in:

  • Albuquerque, N.M.

  • Baltimore

  • Billings, Mont.

  • Bismarck, N.D.

  • Boston

  • Casper, Wyo.

  • Chicago

  • Columbus, Ohio

  • Des Moines, Iowa

  • Los Angeles

  • New York

  • Omaha, Neb.

  • Orange County, Calif.

  • Philadelphia

  • Portland, Ore.

  • San Diego

  • San Francisco

  • San Jose, Calif.

  • Seattle

  • Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Washington, D.C.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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