Cable & Wireless launches enterprise VoIP service

Internet telephony is a big issue for businesses this year, and Cable & Wireless want to merge separate voice and data networks onto a single IP infrastructure

Cable & Wireless is widening its range of corporate Internet telephony products by launching a voice over IP (VoIP) service for UK businesses.

It will be called Cable & Wireless IP Voice and the company says it will offer a better quality of service than is possible with VoIP connections that run over the public Internet. Cable & Wireless said the service is aimed at businesses that have operations at multiple sites and use separate private networks for voice and data at present, and who want to merge their traffic onto a single IP-based network.

Such a converged network should be easier to manage, and could also help companies to deploy services such as video-conferencing and unified messaging.

The telco expects voice to be the "killer application" that drives UK businesses towards the adoption of IP. "The next step in their journey to an integrated communications infrastructure is to migrate their voice networks to IP," said Royston Hoggarth, Cable & Wireless's UK chief executive.

Hoggarth claims that Cable & Wireless is the first UK telco to offer a managed VoIP service for businesses. IP Voice will be formally launched in early July.

Many other telcos are taking VoIP increasingly seriously. BT last week announced that it is upgrading its network to support IP, which will eventually mean that every BT landline will offer Internet telephony -- although this may not always be obvious to the end user.

Several companies are already offering VoIP service in the UK to both individuals and businesses, including On Instant, Gossiptel and IPspeak.

Another contender entered the market earlier this week. Noodle will offer free calls to other VoIP phones, but subscribers will need to pay a monthly subscription of at least £4.95 per month and will also need a broadband line.