Microsoft, Carriers to Serve VoIP in Japan

Microsoft said it is teaming with IP phone service provider Softbank BB Corp. and Japan Telecom to offer businesses in Japan Voice over IP (VoIP), e-mail, Internet access and instant messaging in one service.

Microsoft Co., Ltd., the Japanese unit of Microsoft, will offer Microsoft Solution for Enhanced VoIP Services with the IP phone services of Japanese giant Softbank.

Japan Telecom will couple this integrated communications service with its networking gear and managed network operation to provide its own communications platform to the corporate market.

Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed, but Microsoft, Softbank and Japan Telecom plan to begin trials of the services in spring 2006.

Microsoft said in a statement that bundling the Microsoft Solution for Enhanced VoIP Services with Softbank’s voice platform and Japan Telecom’s managed network service will enable small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to take advantage of powerful communications services they would normally not have access to, including VoIP .

VoIP is the latest communications craze in corporate networks, allowing corporations to boost worker productivity and cut telephone gear clutter by piping calls through computers.

The technology has gotten a lift from success stories like Vonage, which has more than one million customers and is the nation’s largest provider of phone service that sends calls over Internet, and Skype, which was acquired by auction giant eBay for $2.6 billion.

Microsoft has made its own noise in the burgeoning space, acquiring VoIP provider Teleo.

A month after that deal was announced last summer, Microsoft unveiled its first flirtation with VoIP services, promising to provide SMBs VoIP with Qwest Communications International in 2006.

Qwest is the first service provider to integrate the Microsoft VoIP offering
but not the last, as evidenced by today’s deal with Softbank and Japan

The Microsoft Solution for Enhanced VoIP Services includes hosted versions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Office Live Communications Server 2005 and Windows SharePoint Services with Sylantro Systems Corp.’s Application Feature Server.

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