The IP Telephony service will be available in April in 60 countries and territories. Right now, three undisclosed multinational companies are testing the service on four continents, Equant execs say. In a promotion that lasts through August, Equant will let companies test the service without charge for six months among three sites, although restrictions apply.
The LAN-based IP Telephony service is in addition to the Voice for IP virtual private network service already offered by Equant. The LAN-based service provides voice signaling and delivery of voice packets across an IP PBX installed on the LAN and can be combined with the wide-area-oriented Voice for IP VPN service for carrying voice calls among multiple far-flung LANs. The service also is compatible with existing circuit-switched voice services and equipment so customers can operate both types of networks side by side while transitioning fully to IP-based voice technology.
The service should be most attractive to very large business customers with global operations that are interested in cutting their voice calling costs or in consolidating separate voice and data networks into a single infrastructure, says Counse Broders, principal analyst for Internet services at Current Analysis. "The interest is going to be mostly on the high end," where Equant's reputation for data expertise and the impressive reach of its global network will be particularly attractive, Broders says.
Compared to a new voice network using conventional technology, the IP Telephony service will cost about 22% less, Equant estimates, with savings coming from lower maintenance costs, simplified moves and changes, reduced networking staff, and lower costs for equipment.