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Verizon pushes into Europe

A fully managed IP PBX service rounds off Verizon Business' UK offering, and could encourage firms to move to VoIP
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Verizon Business has added a fully managed IP PBX service to its internet telephony portfolio in Europe, the company announced on Monday.

The US telecommunications giant's business services arm, which was the result of a merger with MCI — formerly Worldcom — at the start of this year, is currently making a big push into Europe, with its primary competitors being BT Global Services, Orange Business Services and AT&T.

The managed IP PBX service lets customers outsource the implementation and management of a premises-based IP telephony (VoIP) system to Verizon Business. "It allows customers to have a legacy PBX and allow data and voice to run over the same access line," Verizon Business's head of international product development, Roberta Mackintosh, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday, explaining that it allows customers to "eke out that asset a little longer".

The VoIP portfolio now includes the fully managed IP PBX service, IP integrated access (which helps customers integrate VoIP while retaining their original PBX), hosted IP Centrex (the VoIP service itself) and IP trunking services (to connect an IP PBX to Verizon Business's enterprise data network and the public voice network).

Analyst Margaret Hopkins of Analysys told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that the former Worldcom's dominance of the least-cost routing market meant many traditional PBXs would have a Verizon box beside them, making Verizon "a very significant player in the enterprise voice market".

However, Hopkins also noted that "companies aren't stampeding to move to VoIP", pointing out that such a transition would usually happen when network changes were in any case imminent, or when small sites with a traditional centrex service were moving to broadband.

"This hosted IP PBX offering is just one of many ways in which a company could choose to deploy a VoIP network, so they are filling a gap in their portfolio— or more likely productising something they were already doing for some customers," Hopkins added.

Another element of Verizon Business's extension of its European VoIP portfolio is support for local languages — including "British English" — in its customer web interfaces and local dial-tones. Users previously had to use unfamiliar American tones. The company has also made the portfolio available to Belgium and Luxembourg for the first time, although it was already active in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

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