BellSouth Delivers the Package
BellSouth yesterday announced it is providing packaged communications solutions to provide businesses with voice capabilities, including a migration path to voiceover Internet protocol (VoIP). The number-three local phone company (behind Verizon and SBC Communications) is targeting small and midsize business (SMB) customers with its latest offering. Furthering this effort, the Baby Bell will include network transport, professional services, and Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks equipment.
The integrated network, equipment, and professional services offerings are designed for SMBs with as few as 12 user stations. The services can scale up to provide support for as many as several hundred users at multiple locations. By partnering with Cisco and Nortel, BellSouth can provide preconfigured voice platforms for traditional PBX and key system-based, and IP-based telephony as the customer business needs evolve.
"Businesses are seeking to maximize voice and data investments, converge networks, and reduce total communication costs," according to Dick Anderson, president of Customer Markets for BellSouth. "BellSouth has added packaged IP-telephony solutions to create a more robust and innovative portfolio of voice options, from which customers can choose to help drive their business operations."
These packaged solutions are a component of BellSouth's plan to continually grow its voice solutions portfolio. Other portions of this initiative include current Centrex IP market trials and network based VoIP services (softswitch enabled), which are expected to rollout in 2004.
The sluggish telecommunications industry and poor clarity issues facing VoIP have traditionally plagued the industry, spawning the perception that VoIP is "something that's still blue sky and way out there," says Paul Stockford, lead analyst at Saddletree Research.
Yet, VoIP and Internet telephony have raised eyebrows for their ability to communicate through an organization's WAN and avoid the tolls charged by ordinary telephone service providers. By converging PCs with telephones, IP technology enables capabilities like unified messaging, XML applications, interoffice voice-networking, and plug-and-play workstation functionality for mobile workers.
Customer care centers are beginning to understand the benefits of IP technology, according to Stockford, particularly in centers with 250 or fewer seats where IP deployments are starting to gain traction. Larger companies, he adds, have already made significant investments in their legacy public switched telephone network infrastructures prior to Y2K.