EarthLink and IP Unity Enable VoIP

This week, EarthLink announced that it has deployed IP Unity‘s media server, application server, and unified messaging products to support its new and upcoming VoIP services, including trueVoice and Line Powered Voice.

Nithya Ruff, IP Unity’s vice president of product management and marketing, says the aim is not only to provide the basic features of VoIP like unified messaging, but also to expand that functionality in the future. “IP Unity’s platform is capable of continuing to add to EarthLink’s value-added services portfolio with such things as audio/video/multimedia conferencing, video mail, and a lot more,” Ruff says.

Scalability, Ruff says, was a key selling point for IP Unity’s offering. “The Mereon 6000 Media Server can handle tens of thousands of calls—almost double the volume that EarthLink would normally face—and our platform currently is in EarthLink’s labs to help EarthLink probe and see if there are other value-added services that we can bring to the market,” she says.

A voice strategy
Tom Hsieh, EarthLink’s director of voice products and engineering, says this is all part of a larger voice strategy on EarthLink’s part. The company’s free soft client, Vling, was released in beta in June; the ATA-based trueVoice came out in mid-October; and the company’s next product, Line Powered Voice, will be released in December in San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, and Dallas.

Line Powered Voice, Hsieh says, will make it easier for users to switch from traditional phone services to VoIP. “It very much looks like their phone service today,” he says. “They take any phone they have, they plug it into any jack in the house, and it works. And at the central office, we convert that line into voice over IP.”

The idea is to provide the cost savings and advanced functionality of VoIP, while allowing the user to interface with it the same way they do with a traditional telephone. “The reason it’s called Line Powered Voice is because it’s like normal POTS—the power for the service is provided by the line,” Hsieh says. “If there’s a power outage in the house, the consumer retains their phone service.”

Into the enterprise
While the current focus is on consumer services, Hsieh says the next logical step is for the company to begin offering similar services to the enterprise. “What you’ll see is some business units within EarthLink actually begin to tackle that directly,” he says. “It’s too early for us to talk about timeframes right now, but that’s definitely on our radar.”

And IP Unity’s Ruff says her company’s platform is equally capable of serving both consumer and business needs. “We have a presence in the enterprise space,” she says. “We know how to play in both of these spaces, and we’ve created a ‘one platform, many services’ strategy intentionally to enable us to play in all of these different markets.”

And there isn’t that much difference, Ruff says, between the two markets. “On the enterprise side, one looks for a little more hand-holding from a customer support perspective—and more integration of the business practices, with Active Directories, LDAP directories, Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino,” she says. “We’ve allowed for all of those challenges to be met through the IP Unity platform.”

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