Qwest Widens VoIP Net

Responding to demand, Qwest today announced a major expansion
of its business Voice over IP service.

The Denver telecom launched OneFlex in August and has since made it
available in 26 cities. Today’s push brings more than 100 additional cities
online, including Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee and Tampa, the company said.

Claire Mylott, a Qwest spokeswoman, said businesses of all sizes are
interested in the service because of the conferencing and messaging features
associated with it.

Qwest offers several VoIP options, including a bundled voice and data
service that uses one high-bandwidth connection and an IP Centrex option for
large companies upgrading from legacy to VoIP systems. Pricing is on a
per-seat basis, but varies depending on a company’s needs and access method,
Mylott said.

By entering new markets, Qwest will increasingly bump heads with other
business VoIP providers, including AT&T , whose strength is in
the enterprise market.

Qwest’s VoIP expansion comes amid mounting evidence that businesses are
becoming more comfortable with VoIP. A number of companies, including Bank of
America and Ford , have chosen VoIP
in recent months.

The percentage of companies using the technology jumped from 3 percent last
year to 12 percent this year, according to research from
In-Stat/MDR. Higher adoption rates are found in larger business segments.
In-Stat/MDR forecasts that middle-market VoIP penetration will reach 34
percent by year’s end, with 43 percent in the large business segment.

“There are many different ways that businesses are migrating to VoIP,” wrote
In-Stat/MDR analyst Daryl Schoolar in the report. “Each installation
requires a certain amount of customization. For service providers, this
requires a more consultative customer approach than what they are used to
with their traditional services.”

Also, most firms will use a mixture of voice communication services and
technologies, not VoIP exclusively, Schoolar said.

Qwest has been testing a consumer VoIP offering and is in the process of
planning a rollout of that service, as well, Mylott told
internetnews.com.

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