IP Telephony News Wrap-up for Nov, 18 2003

1. Residential VoIP Providers Enhancing Services; Lowering Rates
The fight for deregulation of VoIP providers has put the technology in the limelight – drawing investors and a rush to the marketplace. Providers are scrambling to roll out services, develop competitively priced calling plans, and add compelling calling features.

8×8
8×8 has introduced new calling plans and features such as free unlimited international calling between Packet8 users (requires the purchase of a $75 desktop terminal adapter). Users subscribed to the company’s Freedom plan, which provides unlimited domestic long distance calling in the U.S. for $19.95 per month, now have the option to subscribe to unlimited international calling plans such as Plus Europe and Plus Asia.

Plus Europe provides unlimited international calling for $29.99 per month to non-mobile and non-premium numbers in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg), Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Plus Asia provides unlimited international calling for $29.99 per month to non-mobile and non-premium numbers in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

8×8 has also introduced new calling features applicable to all its plans including call waiting, call waiting caller ID, hold, call alternate, and 3-way conferencing.

The provider has announced enhancements to its adapter including new features such as voice prompt support, missing IP address indicator, network problem indicator, and improved facility for downloading new firmware.

Last week, 8×8 said it will raise $5.2 million in a private placement.

Vonage
Vonage, the largest residential VoIP provider in the U.S., has expanded its services to Mobile, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; Witchita, Kansas; Richmond, Virginia; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Vonage offers unlimited domestic long distance for $34.99 per month and a small business plan with unlimited domestic long distance for $49.99 per month. The business plan includes a free dedicated fax line. Calling featues include voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, call hunt, call transfer, call return, caller ID block, repeat dialing, international call block, and web based account management, voicemail retrieval, and inbound/outbound calling activity. Vonage subscribers can choose their own area code.

VoicePulse
VoicePulse, a residential VoIP provider, has recently made 18 new area codes available to its subscribers. The area codes are for Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Vermont.

VoicePulse provides unlimited domestic long distance for $34.99 per month. The provider’s calling features include caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, voicemail, distinctive ring, call filters, telemarketer blocking, and anonymous call rejection.

TheGlobe.Com
TheGlobe.Com has launched VoiceGlo, its residential VoIP service. The company’s Free to Talk plan charges subscribers 99 cents per month for reduced rate calling that starts from as low as 4 cents per minute. For $3.99 more each month, subscribers can get caller ID and voicemail. Free to Talk users can choose any area code in the U.S.

DSLi
DSLi has introduced a residential VoIP service for $10 a month. Dialing out costs range from 2 to 24 cents per minute. The service is based on BroadSoft’s Broadworks platform.

Galaxy Internet Services
Galaxy Internet Services may have one of the most attractive VoIP plans, offering unlimited local and long distance calling for $20 a month. Calling features include voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding and others.

Cable Companies
Cable companies are beginning to roll out their VoIP services. Cablevision has recently launched Optimum Voice, a VoCable service that offers unlimited local and long distance calling for $34.95 per month. Calling features include caller ID, call waiting, call return, three way calling, and call forwarding. The service, based on Siemens AG’s softswitch and Motorola’s customer premises equipment, featues E911 service. Optimum Voice is available in Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester, and New York City.

Time Warner has announced plans to launch VoCable services next year. In a report presented last week to the California Public Utilities Commission, the MSO said that it would be willing to meet telco regulations, if the state wins its battle to impose them on VoIP providers.

The FCC
The verdict on whether or not states can regulate VoIP services will likely be determined early next year by the FCC. The commission is scheduled to meet on December 01 to begin shaping a regulatory framework for the industry. The group will explore regulatory classification issues, and will address E911, universal service, and homeland security.

Shortly after the forum, the FCC will initiate a Notice of Public Rule Making to gather public comment.

Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, an advocate for deregulated VoIP, stated at the Pulver.com Wireless Internet Summit that he believed the FCC would choose to regulate VoIP in 2004, based on his impression of a letter sent by the current FCC chairman Michael Powell to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Industry experts estimate there are 100,000 residential VoIP subscribers in the United States. Vonage is reported to be the leading provider with more than 54,000 users.

Skype, a PC to PC VoIP service developed by the creators of Kazaa and marketed on the Kazaa web site, is on its way to becoming the leading free PC to PC service. Since September, more than 2 million Kazaa users have downloaded the VoIP software. Next year, Skype plans to introduce a PC to phone service.

Free World Dialup, a PC to PC service started by Jeff Pulver many years ago, claims to have more than 75,000 subscribers.

Skype, a PC to PC VoIP service developed by the creators of Kazaa and marketed on the Kazaa web site, is on its way to becoming the leading free PC to PC service. Since September, more than 2 million Kazaa users have downloaded the VoIP software. Next year, Skype plans to introduce a PC to phone service.

International
Outside of the United States, Japan has one of the largest bases of VoIP subscribers – 4 million. The adoption rate is high because of NTT’s high rates.

In Germany, Quality Service Communications AG, has just launched a VoDSL service dubbed IPfonie, that will offer its DSL subscribers reduced rate calling. The service is $5.75 per month, with a one time setup fee of $11. Users must subscribe to the provider’s DSL service, which is $57.50 per month. QSP has already been providing VoIP to businesses.

QSP has approximately 50,000 DSL users in more than 40 cities in Germany.

Bredbandsbolaget AB, a Swedish broadband operator, announced last week that is preparing to launch VoDSL services. The company already provides VoIP services to 27,000 subscribers.

8×8
http://www.8×8.com
http://www.packet8.net

Vonage
http://www.vonage.com

VoicePulse
http://www.voicepulse.com

TheGlobe.Com
http://www.theglobe.com

DSLi
http://www.dsli.com

Galaxy Internet Services
http://www.gis.net

Cablevision
http://www.cablevision.com

Time Warner
http://www.timewarner.com

FCC
http://www.fcc.gov

Free World Dialup
http://www.pulver.com/fwd

Quality Service Communications
http://www.qsc.de

Bredbandsbolaget
http://www.bredband.com/se/index.jsp

Skype
http://www.skype.com

3. International VoIP Council to Host Call on IP Centrex
The International VoIP Council will host an open call on November 20th at 2:00pm EST to discuss their role in IP Centrex and hosted communications.

Topics to be covered include:

  • What is IP Centrex and hosted communications? Who is utilizing these IP services now? What role does IP Centrex and hosted communications play in the VoIP world?
  • What are the differences between the traditional Centrex service and IP Centrex?
  • What are the differences between the enterprise IP PBX solutions and hosted IP solutions?
  • What challenges are companies facing as they determine whether they should grow or replace their current phone systems and transition into VoIP?
  • What are the most popular IP hosted solution features?
  • What is the future of hosted communications and where is it headed?

To access the discussion, call 1-877-211-0215 and use the passcode 481439.

International VoIP Council
http://www.voipcouncil.com

Time Zone Conversions
http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock

5. ElephantTalk Acquires Billion Online Limited
ElephantTalk, a wholesale voice provider with a large footprint in the Far East, has acquired Billion Online Limited, a China based systems integrator and provider of various IP based services and products including a PC to phone system, a softswitch solution, and an enterprise instant messaging service.

ElephantTalk
http://www.elephanttalk.com

Billion Online Limited
http://www.bol2000.com

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