Last week, PAETEC Communications announced that it had made an initial investment of more than $10 million in the launch of its new iPATH suite of VoIP services, aimed at helping medium to large businesses migrate to next-generation VoIP. The services include IP T1 (converged voice and data services with dynamic bandwidth allocation) and Hosted IP Telephony (hosted IP Centrex and hosted PBXs).
John Chapman, PAETEC’s Vice President of Product Development, says the IP T1 service is focused on giving businesses maximum control over bandwidth for data and voice. “Today, everything’s done by a channelized T, you parse out ‘x’ amount of channels, and that’s how you do voice/data,” he says. “With IP T1, you have dynamic bandwidth allocation that you can allocate as you see fit for any one of those applications.”
PAETEC’s Hosted IP Telephony solution includes both hosted IP PBX and hosted IP Centrex services, giving a company access to the feature functionality of IP telephony without the up-front investment. Both include a portal that can be used to perform moves, adds, and changes, provision services, and support real-time call control—and both can be used to deploy a range of collaboration services including voicemail, ACD, auto attendant and conferencing.
The company’s iPATH services are deployed over PAETEC’s Private IP MPLS network, using Lucent’s IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) solution. “A lot of customers will buy a VoIP service and sometimes don’t realize that a portion of that traffic goes over the public Internet,” Chapman says. “And if voice is truly an application, which I believe it is, and voice truly should be given quality status, then you need to put some type of QoS parameter around it. And you also need to treat that voice traffic with the highest amount of security, which is why we put session border controllers throughout our network.”
Key to both offerings is the fact that PAETEC works extensively with the client prior to every deployment. “We help them with LAN assessments, security assessments, and actually create a migration strategy that helps them get from TDM or a traditional legacy Centrex to IP,” Chapman says. “We think that’s core to the offering, because if we moved you over and you weren’t ready for it, you’re just an unhappy customer that’s now on IP. It requires us to do a lot more legwork up front, but we believe it’s a better customer experience at the end.”
The new suite of iPATH offerings, Chapman says, should help PAETEC in both retaining and expanding its customer base. “We’ve had customers in the past, and potential customers, looking for hosted applications—and we were not able to provide that solution set to them,” he says. “So this is really a good complementary suite of services that helps us broaden our product portfolio and meet our customers’ demands.”
The coming year for PAETEC, Chapman says, will be largely about getting more customers on board—with 2007 seeing a larger market expansion. “We believe this is a cornerstone of our product offerings for the next several years to come,” he says. “If you look at our network, it truly is a converged network—and everything we do is really focused on IP services.”