MCI today kicked off a European roll-out of IP-based services aimed at companies wanting to converge voice and data networks.
MCI Advantage VoIP combines voice, multimedia and data across a single IP link allowing customers to converge telephony, data exchange and messaging applications on a single network infrastructure.
"VoIP is continuing to gain momentum because the technology has moved on sufficiently to make it an affordable proposition for a business, with an easy to calculate return on investment," said Neil Rickard, research vice president at Gartner.
"The key elements needed to serve the enterprise market's initial requirements for supporting voice applications in a converged environment are site-to-site VoIP, site-to-public VoIP and hosted and/or managed IP telephony.
"Later requirements will include hosted/managed contact centres and unified communications. The first wave of applications is being deployed on the basis of obvious cost savings, plus an increase in agility and flexibility."
MCI said that its Advantage portfolio of services, which includes networked VoIP and hosted IP telephony, will be introduced throughout the next year.
The initial offering, MCI Advantage IP Integrated Access, is now available to UK companies and will soon be available in France, Germany and The Netherlands.
According to MCI the IP Integrated Access offering allows customers to benefit from IP telephony's free network voice calls and lower network management costs, while still using their existing PABX.
The firm promised that other services, including DSL access, hosted and managed IP-PBX solutions, will follow later in 2005.
"MCI Advantage IP Integrated Access allows customers to evolve to a converged networking solution whilst reducing expenses," said Roberta Mackintosh, senior director of product management, pricing and analysis for MCI in Europe.
MCI claims to have enabled its voice and internet products for convergence through implementing intelligent network-hosted Session Initiated Protocol capabilities and routing servers.
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