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Mobile

Jetstream seeks to boost voice over broadband

The company introduces new products intended to encourage carriers to deliver voice-over-broadband services--or multiple phone calls over a single high-speed Net connection--more quickly.

    Aiming to jump-start a market that has yet to take off, Jetstream Communications on Monday introduced a new package of products and services intended to encourage carriers to deliver voice-over-broadband services more quickly.

    The package, Jetstream Formation, includes improved gear, new software, and marketing and sales plans. Jetstream is a privately held maker of communications equipment designed to deliver multiple voice phone calls over a single high-speed, or "broadband," Internet connection.

    The Formation strategy includes new capabilities for Jetstream's primary voice gateway product, which links circuit-switched and Internet networks. Formation also includes upgraded network-management software and a new integrated access device--the equipment installed at the customer's home or office.

    In addition, Jetstream has developed several new marketing, sales and pricing programs that are designed to eliminate the guesswork of offering the service commercially for carriers.

    Many communications carriers, including digital subscriber line (DSL) providers, continue merely to test voice-over-broadband gear, and Jetstream hopes to prod them to offer the service commercially.

    "Coming up with complete programs for sales and marketing is a critical part of a vendor's success because they're dependent on the service providers," said Beth Gage, vice president of consulting at TeleChoice, a communications consulting firm.

    Overall, equipment providers must make deploying their gear as easy as possible, an accomplishment that Jetstream hopes to foster, Gage said.

    Jetstream's primary competitors, including TollBridge Technologies, CopperCom, General Bandwidth and Accelerated Networks, also are eager for the market to begin growing.

    Voice-over-broadband service is aimed primarily at home offices and small and midsized businesses. A single high-speed Net connection can be split, allowing customers to use part of the bandwidth for high-speed Net access and the remainder for several phone lines. The simplicity and lower cost is attractive to business customers.

    However, many carriers have been slow to deploy voice-over-broadband services.

    The Baby Bell local-phone companies are unlikely to rush to offer the technology because it cuts into their core business. And smaller competitors, such as Rhythms NetConnections, NorthPoint Communications and Covad Communications, have been busy building out their networks, seeking funding, signing up reseller and content partners, and focusing on a variety of other priorities. Although voice-over-broadband could provide new revenue for these providers, they have yet to broadly offer it.

    According to TeleChoice, only 40,000 customers will use a voice-over-DSL service this year, but the market is projected to grow to 2 million lines by 2004.