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VeriSign service signals cheaper, easier VoIP

The infrastructure provider's new service aims to enable end-to-end VoIP, lowering the cost of IP voice service and enabling enterprises to make use of more advanced IP PBX features.

VeriSign Inc. has announced a new service to help enterprises cut costs after transitioning to VoIP, as well as aid them in integrating voice communications with other applications.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet infrastructure provider's upcoming IP Connect service promises to help carriers link IP-enabled public branch exchanges using an all-IP network backbone.

Tom Kershaw, VeriSign's vice president of VoIP services, said enterprises use IP PBXs only to have their carriers transport the signals, using the more traditional method of Primary Rate Interface (PRI) channels on IDSN lines.

With IP Connect, Kershaw said carriers can leverage VeriSign's DNS infrastructure to offer enterprises an all-IP method for handling VoIP calls.

"Today, companies that have VoIP PBXs and buy PRI lines from a carrier are still paying per-minute charges for long distance, and are limited to traditional telecom services," Kershaw said. "By enabling them to connect VoIP networks together, we're reducing their costs."

Not only does it create new business opportunities for carriers, he said, it also enables enterprises to rethink the way they communicate with the outside world. For example, if a manufacturing firm has certain suppliers it calls frequently, it could choose to configure its VoIP systems to act as if they all are on the same network, lowering the cost of calls and making it easier to integrate secure IM and videoconferencing applications.

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"If I'm an enterprise, I can't do that today because I'm concerned about security and about interoperability, different PBXs use different protocols, and I don't have a trusted third- party that can link me up with those other enterprises," Kershaw said.

Danny Klein, senior analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group, said the biggest advantage for an enterprise might simply be the opportunity to use more of the options that an IP PBX can provide, such as call forwarding or three-digit dialing, which typically can't be mapped from one office location to another using PRI lines. He said it could also open the door for the integration of more robust platforms incorporating videoconferencing and instant messaging.

Another boon, Klein said, is additional interoperability among systems from multiple vendors.

"If an enterprise, for example, has experience in dealing with a Nortel environment, but one of their branch offices uses a different vendor's phone system -- or if it eventually wants to support another type of service like hosted IP telephony -- this type of service can facilitate that," said Klein.

Kershaw said the IP Connect service is still in the late testing stages, but VeriSign hopes to make the offering available to providers by the end of the year.

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