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New Hosts Enter Wholesale Market



 

Hosted voice services are

hot products for the resale channel, and there are a number of new entrants into the wholesale arena, most interestingly Lucent Technologies Inc. The equipment giant rolled out a few hosted services in the past year, but at SUPERCOMM 2005 in June debuted a much more extensive suite.

Service providers of all sizes are looking for innovative and creative ways to get new services to market faster and cheaper. Hosted solutions, like the Lucent offer, are beginning to grow in popularity to meet these changing needs, says IDC research manager William Stofega. We are starting to see service providers seriously explore ways to outsource parts or all of their networks. As this trend continues to pick up momentum, we project the U.S. hosted market will grow into a $1.9 billion opportunity by 2008.

Lucents new hosted IP PBX service, branded the Lucent Feature Server 3000, includes numerous business-voice applications, such as hosted PBX, which is based on the software suite of BroadSoft Inc., a leading provider of software for hosted IP voice services. Ashok Shah, global professional services vice president at Lucent Worldwide Services, describes the service as our own software suite with some BroadSoft.

In addition, Lucent is offering Mobile Extensions, a new feature set that replicates the features of an office PBX on mobile phones. These features include sharing the same phone number, four-digit extension and voice mailbox as the desk phone.

Another part of the Lucent Hosted Solution Suite is Hosted MiLife, a collection of outsourced applications, including iLocator for location-based services, SurePay for prepaid and post-paid charging and MiRingBack for ring-back tone service.

The services are packaged with Lucent network gateways and gateway controllers, as well as a provisioning system and Lucents network management suite, called Vital Suite. The services further are bundled with Lucents managed security service.

A more likely wholesaler, eLEC Communications Corp.s subsidiary VoX Communications also launched wholesale versions of its hosted VoIP services for residential and business customers this summer.

The packages include more than 20 Class 5 call features, voice mail and enhanced call handling. eLEC also is unbundling certain enhanced features for wholesale customers. Those features are delivered by the companys hosted VoIP system, developed largely in-house, but based on the iptel.org SIP server suite.

The iptel.org software was heavily modified because it was not designed to run anything other than a small enterprise, says Mark Richards, president of VoX Communications. eLEC wanted to provide VoIP services that would extend to the companys broad base of customers, from consumers to large enterprises.

eLEC has developed a VoIP infrastructure that resembles a high-performance Web data center rather than a traditional phone company, says Richards, comparing the companys network operation center to a Google server farm, with large, flexible computing resources.

The companys network operation center in White Plains, N.Y., is built on more than 20 Red Hat Inc. Linux servers, most performing different network tasks, though some are redundant devices.

You take a softswitch and break it down to the 20 to 30 things that a softswitch has to do to set up a call, maintain a call, account for a call and break it down, says Richards. We look at each component as a personality, and we asked, how many boxes do we need for each function, based on how many people are using the network.

That kind of structure, he says, can be scaled greatly as the company grows. Also, boxes can be assigned to perform different tasks as demand on the network dictates. And, if a server goes down, subscribers should not even have a call interrupted.

eLEC also supports termination and origination using both the G.711 and G.729 voice codecs. We found that 90 percent of the traffic in the United States is carried at G.711. So not a lot of companies are doing G.729, says Richards. However, with eLEC partner Global Crossing also supporting G. 729, as well as most of the vendors of hosted IP voice software, the company felt it would have a competitive advantage going forward to offer G.729 as an option.

Links
Broadsoft Inc. www.broadsoft.com
ChoiceOne Communications Inc. www.choiceonecom.com
eLEC Communications Corp. www.elec.net
IDC www.idc.com
Lucent Technologies Inc. www.lucent.com
Red Hat Inc. www.redhat.com
VoX Communications www.voxcorp.net

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