January 14, 2005

It is Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature!

Today Covad took a press release announcing that it is trialing a new technology to offer voice services over UNE-L loops. They dubbed this service to be Line Powered Voice. Based on the sketchy information available in the press release, it looks like Nokia has incorporated “Access gateway” in the DSLAM and is controlled by a Softswitch to offer voice service. They say that, “Line-powered voice access marries the usability of traditional phone service with the advanced features of VoIP, while allowing CLECs to leverage the cost efficiencies of VoIP in their networks.” Covad is careful in not calling it VoIP. But enough confusion has been created. Broadband Reports calls it a new take on VoIP. Techdirect titled the story, “I Can't Believe It's Not POTS VoIP”. Om says, “it is a simple [like] VoIP minus headaches.”

It may be true that with this technology, Covad and CLECs are able to offer voice services easily and inexpensively. But that doesn’t mean, it is based on VoIP technology. It is true that the ATA is at the CO instead of at home. But that doesn’t make it VoIP. If so, ILECs can place a gateway behind the Class 5 switch and declare they also offer VoIP. In other words, if we are not careful in defining what VoIP is, then the good old POTS can also be arduously called VoIP.

Posted by aswath at January 14, 2005 12:52 AM
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You are correct in pointing out that this is not "pure" VoIP. The UNE loop will be TDM, just as if it were connected to a Class 5 switch. It will be converted to VoIP at Covad's equipment within the CO.

This is analogous to AT&T's conversion of traffic to VoIP at its Class 4 switches - and we learned that the regulatory bodies don't consider that to be a VoIP service exempt from access charges and other regulatory fees and tariffs.

The good news is that, if this works, Covad will have introduced a new way for CLECs to offer competitive local services to residential customers. It is especially heartening to see that the service, unlike DSL, is not distance-limited. This could be a much-needed boost to a beaten-down sector.

Posted by: LDP at January 14, 2005 11:43 AM

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