Bell Communications Research or Bellcore, the former jointly- owned research arm of the seven US Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), is adding its weight to the drive to move voice traffic off the telecoms network and onto packet switched data networks. As part of its drive, Bellcore has set up Soliant Internet Systems, a unit that it says will develop a voice over IP network architecture for business to business applications. The company says it has been working on internet telephony for a year although not exactly with its former owners blessing. The work was mainly in the background, says Jac Simensen, vice president and general manager at Soliant, Internet telephony was not high on their [RBOC’s] list of priorities. Not surprising since the technology threatens to undercut telecoms carriers in the most profitable sectors of their business.
Now the company which left the ownership of the RBOC’s last month, and says it only interests now are purely commercial says that Internet Telephony will become a lucrative market for business to business communications. At present packet data telephony over the internet is a long way from providing the quality and services offered by the PSTN, but, according to Soliant, a separate business to business IP network is already emerging and it is this that will drive the corporate take up of packet networks for voice traffic. A number of separate companies are building networks to support their business customers, says Simensen. Through companies such as WorldCom and other emerging CLECs, as well as cable companies a second private business to business packet network is now emerging. These companies alongside ISPs will be the target for Soliants products. Soliant says it plans to offer its complete architecture for packet voice services in the new year and that its plan is to offer its own software as part of a total package that will include third party telecoms equipment, as well as hardware and software vendors, including intelligent routing of the existing phone network to IP telephony, as well as address billing issues. Soliant says that it is still considering two ways of implementing the technology either through an access code dialed at the start of the call which will take the call over the PSTN until it connects to the data network or by sending calls through a data gateway within the corporate premises. Bellcore’s acquisition by Science Applications International Corp of San Diego was completed last month.