RealTime IT News

Netopia Develops VoDSL For ISPs

Integrated communication providers know that Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line technology turbochargers copper lines to support high-speed access. But few ICPs realize that multi-line voice, Internet access and other enhanced services are on the verge of revolutionizing next generation local loop growth.

Netopia Inc. is intent on helping ICPs build the Internet infrastructure necessary to provide advanced voice and data DSL services. The firm has formed three strategic partnerships with manufacturers of voice over DSL gateway products to offer integrated voice and data solutions.

Netopia will incorporate VoDSL technologies from CopperCom Inc., Jetstream Communications Inc. and TollBridge Technologies Inc. to allow Netopia's commerce partners to provide the integrated DSL services.

"VoDSL Internet Access Devices will allow our ISP and CLEC partners to offer their small business customers a compelling, integrated solution that bundles high-speed DSL Internet access with a very cost-effective voice offering," said Alan Lefkof, Netopia's president and chief executive officer.

"Netopia's product focus on the small business market makes them an excellent partner, since these end customers are the most in need of a cost-effective alternative to the expensive analog voice services offered by LECs," said Jim Grady, TollBridge's vice president of marketing.

Cynthia Ringo, CopperCom's chief executive officer and president, said Netopia's strength in the small business market combined with CopperCom's implementation of voice compression will allow the firms to address the lucrative small business market.

Netopia's VoDSL technology was developed in partnership with Copper Mountain Networks, a manufacturer of DSL concentrators. This means that carriers can remotely monitor performance, conduct diagnostic tests and upgrade firmware on the Netopia customer site.

SDSL services support a high-speed data access connection operating at 1.5 to 7 MBPS. The combination of speed and instant access has driven the deployment of approximately 40,000 DSL lines in the U.S. to date.

If DSL access has been driving growth of high-speed data systems, Netopia's offering promises to catapult DSL into the data-plus multi-line voice services realm for because small businesses are looking for a single supplier of voice, data and Internet services.

According to Barbara Tien, Netopia's director of product marketing, their new router line up will meet the demands of small business communications.

"Small businesses benefit the most from advanced systems because they don't have dedicated IT personnel on staff. Our belief is that this new approach to offering advanced integrated services for partners to deliver to small business provides companies with a unified communication solution."

How it Works:

To achieve end-to-end voice transport, Netopia's SDSL routers deliver packetized voice traffic from the customer to CopperCom, Jetstream and other VoDSL gateways. The gateways are designed to connect packetized voice traffic to Class 5 circuit switches and to extend call-control features. Call-forwarding, call-waiting services and auto-redial features are piped down through VoDSL lines to customer phones.

The bottom line is service providers can continue to leverage Class 5 reliability and features while also reaping the economic benefits of packet-based access networks.

The long-term transition of hundreds of millions of circuit-switched local loops to next-generation packet-switched local loops opens a whole new realm of business opportunities for ICPs teaming up with Netopia.

What's at Stake:

ICPs looking to lay claim to the 7 million small businesses in the U.S. that spent more than $40 billion on local and long distance voice communications in 1998.

Businesses without xDSL access are forced to contend with the cost and complexity of contracting with multiple vendors to provide integrated communications.

Advocates of VoDSL believe incumbent carriers are particularly vulnerable to competitors in the four- to 16-line market segment, which includes small businesses and upscale residential customers. The same market segment accounts for as much as 50 percent of incumbent carriers' revenues. According to the independent research firm, the Yankee Group, the number of small and medium-sized businesses using DSL access will increase to 1.44 million customers by 2002.