1. AT&T Launches Vendor Parternship Program
AT&T has launched VoIP Innovation and Interoperability Program, an initiative established to attract vendors to develop technology that will be interoperable with its proprietary specifications for delivering business and residential VoIP services. Participating companies will receive a license to AT&T Labs’ intellectual property. The provider is seeking to create partnerships with manufacturers of a wide range of VoIP products such as chipsets, software, telephone adapters, corded and cordless phones, Wi-Fi phones, game consoles, set-top boxes, routers, modems, PBX systems and ACD systems.
Current participants include Broadcom, Centillium, Intel, Texas Instruments, D-Link, Linksys, Netgear, Alcatel, Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, Siemens, and Sonus.
Work currently underway includes the integration of AT&T certified and licensed VoIP functionality into chip/software designs and reference platforms; integration of AT&T CallVantage service technical specifications into CPE; and interoperability achievement between AT&T services and IP PBX and VoIP infrastructures.
In other news, AT&T has announced multiple enhancements to its CallVantage service. Simple Reach is a new option that allows users to acquire up to 10 different phone numbers, with the ability to choose any area code for the numbers, within the 170 U.S. markets served by the provider. The feature is particularly beneficial for users receiving a heavy volume of long distance calls from a specific area code, as those calls could be treated as local calls if the user were to obtain a number in that area code. CallVantage subscribers are provided with one phone number as part of the basic service. Each additional number is $4.95 per month.
New calling feature enhancements include international call blocking, international call logs (incoming and outgoing), international caller ID, and customized caller ID (caller ID name displayed matches phone book entry).
AT&T has also said that it is shipping a home wiring do it yourself guide to new subscribers, which provides a step by step guide to connecting the CallVantage service to multiple phones in a home. The provider charges a fee for having the wiring done by its personnel.
Before the end of the year, AT&T plans to implement an automatic software upgrade to its existing telephone adapters that will allow subscribers to deploy the telephone adapter in different network configurations.
Unlike AT&T’s traditional residential phone service, subscribers do not have the option to receive a bill by postal mail and pay by check. Monthly fees are instead automatically charged to a credit card. For subscribers that keep the service for more than 30 days, there is a significant cancellation fee. Consumers exploring VoIP service should always check the fine print when comparing providers, as the customer-unfriendly aspects of a service are not included in the press announcements.
3. Cisco Introduces New Routers with Voice & Security Support
Cisco Systems has introduced the 2800 and 3800 series of integrated services routers, converging routing, voice and advanced security onto a single platform.
The routers include built-in VPN hardware encryption and acceleration, version 2.0 of the intuitive router and service device manager (SDM), IOS software based VPN firewall, and inline intrusion prevention system (IPS) functionality. The routers are offered with option modules for VPN acceleration, enhanced IPS, and URL filtering.
The routers also include the newest releases of Cisco CallManager Express and Unity Express. The technology can be used by SMBs as PBX and Key systems replacements or by larger businesses as a survivable remote site telephony mode for redundancy.
The new routers have improved voice trunk and station densities, DSP, and platform performance. They feature embedded DSP slots for enabling secure voice, voice gateway, conferencing, and transcoding capabilities, combined with call processing integrated within the IOS software, along with optional voicmail and automated attendant in advanced integration modules (AIM) or network module slots.
The 2800 series routers will become available this month, with pricing starting at $1995. The 3800 series routers will be available next month, with pricing starting at $9500.
In other news, Cisco has announced that the Vietnam Datacommunication Company (VDC) will deploy its technology to rollout IP/MPLS VPN service, business VoIP, and managed network services. The project includes implementation of Cisco’s 12140 routers, 7600 series routers, 7200 series access routers, Catalyst 6500 series multi-layer switches, access servers, VoIP gateways, 7300 series routers, and security devices including the PIX 525 firewall, and Aironet 1100 series WLAN access points. VDC and its parent company, VNPT, have been deploying Cisco’s equipment since 1996. Currently, the provider uses the vendor’s technology to deliver long distance VoIP, wireless LAN access, network security, and high speed Internet access.
VDC is Vietnam’s leading provider of Internet services.
5. Tekelec Acquires VocalData
Tekelec, a provider of next generation signaling and switching solutions along with network monitoring technology and value added applications, has acquired Richardson, Texas-based VocalData, a provider of hosted IP telephony applications. As part of the agreement, Tekelec will purchase all of VocalData’s outstanding shares for $27.5 million, consisting of $14.5 million in cash and $13 million in common stock.
VocalData’s technology will be integrated into Tekelec’s Eagle 5 Signaling Application System, adding new capabilities to the system such as feature activation via customer web portals. VocalData’s services will continue to be offered as a stand alone solution for IP PBXs and VoIP for enterprise WAN and private VPN services.
VocalData’s technology supports SIP, MGCP, SCCP, and MiNet IP protocol. Its architecture supports over 700,000 busy hour call attempts or the equivalent of 200 calls per second. According to a recent Frost & Sullivan market study, VocalData has an estimated 44% share of the North American IP Centrex based on installed lines and according to iLocus, the company has an approximate 34% global share of IP Centrex lines shipped.
7. TI Unveils Development Platform for WLAN IP Phone
Texas Instruments has introduced TNETV1600 WLAN IP Phone, a fully integrated platform for the development of portable IP phones that operate in WLAN environments. In addition to voice, phones can be developed to receive email and other data services. The platform consists of TI’s TNETW1230 WLAN chipset and software, Telogy software for VoIP, the TLV320AIC22C dual channel CODEC, and the TPS65010 power management product.
Ascom Wireless Solutions plans to use the technology to enhance its onsite communications platform, which it markets throughout Europe.