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Covad Adds Partners to Deliver Voice Over DSL Services

Small businesses and consumers seeking voice service alternatives to their incumbent local exchange carriers are one step closer to enjoying new telecommunications possibilities.

Broadband access provider Covad Communications Co. Wednesday announced that it has reached an agreement with GST Telecommunications Inc. to develop integrated voice over digital subscriber line services.

The two companies plan to utilize asynchronous transfer mode technology to develop transport service offerings for small businesses.

The agreement is the result of the emerging market for integrated voice and data DSL services. Covad will work directly with GST to develop voice over DSL service offerings in an eight-state region of the western United States.

As part of the deal, GST has already signed an agreement with Covad to provide Covad's DSL services to GST's customers. The companies anticipate completing initial service trials of voice over DSL services by the end of 1999.

In related news, Covad Wednesday signed an $100 million extension of their DSL supply agreement with Finnish equipment group Nokia.

Nokia will supply Covad with the equipment for in order to deploy up to 750,000 new DSL lines in the U.S. Currently, Covad DSL services are available in 37 metropolitan markets nationwide.

Robert Roblin, Covad executive vice president of marketing, said targeting competitive local exchange carriers to develop integrated DSL services would breakdown barriers to proprietary telecommunication markets.

"Securing development agreements with voice CLECs is an important step toward providing true competition and choice to the $45 billion dollar small business voice communications market," Roblin said. "By working with aggressive, nimble voice CLECs such as GST, Covad plans to break the local phone service monopoly for voice services."

The agreements closely follow Covad's successful completion of voice over DSL technical trials using existing gateways and related voice equipment from both Jetstream Communications Inc. and CopperCom Inc.

Roblin said Covad plans to design a manageable telecommunications system for small businesses that will enable companies to apportion up to 16 voice lines and data through one DSL connection.

"Although the technology behind the service is impressive by any standard, voice over DSL is really about leveraging a DSL line to provide voice products with better service delivery and better customer service."