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IP Networks, VoIP for the people

Verizon Business is paving the VoIP way for enterprise branch offices by offering single-pipe, dynamic T-1 bandwidth allocation for voice, data and Internet access traffic.

Verizon Business last week lowered the bar for enterprise branch offices and small businesses looking to deploy Voice over IP networks.

The company -- an operating unit of Verizon Communications Inc., which sells advanced IP, data, voice and wireless products -- is offering an upgrade of its Internet telephony platform to include IP Flexible T-1, new customer equipment choices, Dedicated Toll-Free over IP and advanced fraud protection for Managed IP telephony.

According to Brian Washburn, an analyst with Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis, enterprises with outlying branch offices will find the most compelling piece of this announcement to be the IP Flexible T-1 component.

"For these companies, [IP Flexible T-1] is going to be very attractive," said Washburn. "They will be saving money by making the most of a single pipe."

The IP Flexible T-1 service aims to make moving to IP networking cost-effective for remote corporate offices making the big transition to VoIP. By deploying IP Flexible T-1, remote branches can upgrade to a converged environment in which voice and data can be carried over a single connection.

According to Verizon Business, cost savings depend on each user's environment, size of implementation and traffic characteristics, but users are expected to realize a 10% to 20% cost savings as they move to VoIP. This savings encompasses LAN and WAN convergence, network administration support simplification, and productivity improvements.

"IP Flexible T-1 offers dynamic bandwidth allocation, enabling cost-effective use of its T-1 line for voice, data and Internet-access traffic requirements, and real-time adjustments in bandwidth in response to changing business demands," said Lorena McCalister, director of VoIP marketing at Verizon Business.

Under this scenario, users don't tap Verizon Business each time they need to adjust T-1 bandwidth allocation in response to traffic changes in voice, data, and Internet access. Instead, bandwidth adjusts automatically.

IP Flexible T-1 additionally provides a Voice Compression feature that means less voice bandwidth is required for the same amount of voice traffic.

"The user does not have to sacrifice voice quality or quantity in exchange for converging their access via IP," said McCalister. "The primary purpose of this product was to easily enable the user's first step toward an IP migration by converting their access to IP."

Verizon Business is looking at professional services firms in the small business market and branch offices of large real estate or insurance companies in the enterprise market as typical target environments, said McCalister.

Other aspects of the Verizon Business announcement include new Polycom IP phones for its Hosted IP Centrex users. The company has also integrated dedicated toll-free service with its VoIP portfolio, so that environments using deployed dedicated toll-free and VoIP can use a single connection for their incoming toll-free calls along with their outbound VoIP traffic.

Catering to heightened security demands among companies today, Verizon Business expanded its "Sheriff" anti-fraud expert system to protect Verizon Business Managed IP Telephony customers from illegitimate use of their IP PBX phone systems.

The Sheriff security service provides 24-hour monitoring against fraudulent calling in order to thwart any business losses associated with misuse of an enterprise network. Managed IP PBX users are policed via Sheriff and Verizon Business' experienced Fraud Control Team, but there is also a custom version that lets customers tailor Sheriff to recognize and report irregular activities associated with a customer's particular business.

Common misuse of IP PBX include calls from stolen laptops or former employees who retained authentication codes; calls placed in adherence to corporate dial plan rules; toll fraud via remote call forwarding; adhoc conference calls that result when the call doesn't drop after the originator hangs up.

"Telephony-based fraud is not unique to IP PBX. However, the ability to monitor and detect it is," said McCalister. "Some of the same fraudulent or mis-use telephony practices that occur on dial lines and conventional PBXs can occur on an IP PBX ... by monitoring IP PBX call detail records, we can apply the same fraud-detection methodologies as for our dial services."

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