BT launches secure, hosted IP telephony

A tie-up with Nortel has produced a CESG-certified, hosted service for large corporates and governmental institutions

BT and Nortel have unveiled a secure, hosted IP telephony system for large governmental and corporate institutions.

BT Hosted Voice is based on Nortel's Communication Server 2000 IP telephony switch and is certified by the Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG), the information assurance arm of GCHQ, for the transmission of "restricted" voice traffic.

The service already has one major, albeit anonymous, customer, and it will be opened up to others in January 2008.

"This is a platform that we're already using [with the unnamed customer]. It already has 50,000 users and carries a million calls a day," said Andrew Small, head of contact centres at BT Global Services, on Tuesday. "What we are doing now is extending the platform's availability to other customers."

Small claimed that the nature of the platform, and its integration with BT's 21st Century Network infrastructure, would give users the flexibility to connect from home or abroad. "It also allows them to scale very quickly because, if they want to add more users to the network very rapidly, we can accommodate that," he said.

Nortel's involvement means that customers of BT Hosted Voice will be buying into Nortel and Microsoft's "unified communications" platform, which includes features such as web conferencing, instant messaging and presence.

BT and Nortel, which have been working together since 1990, are promising "low-risk, managed" transitions to the new product from existing products such as FeatureNet, according to Small. He also predicted that BT Hosted Voice would eventually be made available to mid-market companies and local government authorities.