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SBC, Lucent team on Net telephony

The telecom twosome play up the technology as a way for companies to use voice over the Internet without having to make investments in new equipment.

SBC Communications on Tuesday introduced a new way for businesses to make calls using voice over Internet Protocol technology.

The carrier has teamed with Lucent Technologies on a service that will circumvent traditional phone networks and give business customers access to new technology without having to invest in new equipment. The two touted the technology, which is compatible with older, circuit-switched networks, as a way for companies to migrate to Internet telephony.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

VoIP, or Internet telephony, has begun to supplant traditional telecom networks, mostly among businesses, which can run the services over their own internal networks.

SBC's line of services, called Centrex, will address businesses' telephone and Internet access needs by hosting the services in its own central office. The services will include VoIP calling, DSL access, Web-enabled services and caller display information.

The services will protect businesses from equipment obsolescence and equipment maintenance costs, SBC said. The company also emphasized the outsourcing model as advantageous in terms of network security and the possibility of a disaster at a customer location.

SBC will provide the services as part of a multiyear deal with Lucent. The carrier will use the Lucent IP Centrex technology for its SBC Centrex IP service. Lucent's product incorporates switches that are compatible with Class 5 switches, the type used in traditional telephone networks.

The companies have tested the technology in a trial that supports more than 1,600 stations in use by Lucent employees. Centrex services can support IP telephony for a customer that has up to four satellite offices.