Infrastructure In Place, Municipalities Start Offering VoIP

Municipalities are beginning to offer citizens VoIP, to the displeasure of traditional telecom service providers.

August 9, 2005

2 Min Read
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A Massachusetts telecommunications start-up company has spied some low-lying fruit in the form of municipalities interested in rolling out VoIP for their citizens and taxpayers. The firm, vCentrix Inc., has already begun working with the town of Norwood to provide VoIP.

Steve Crummey, vCentrix CEO, said Tuesday that of the some 2,000 municipalities in the U.S. that already provide some sort of public utility, about 400 are ripe for VoIP. “They’ve already laid all the infrastructure,” he said.

Norwood fits that bill, because its utility, Norwood Light, has already built out a fiber optic network including local loop as well as broadband services for subscribers. The charter of Norwood Light has been to serve the town’s citizens and save money for its taxpayers.

Talal Ali-Ahmad, founder and president of vCentrix, said VoIP is simply the next migration of services, not only for municipalities, but also for other ILECs, CLECs, MSOs, and ISPs--all of them targeted by vCentrix. Ali-Ahmad said the firm has “plenty of work to keep us busy,” although it’s too soon to discuss other customers. “Our network is developed to deliver [VoIP] as long as there is a broadband network first,” he said.

One driving force behind the rapid growth of VoIP, he added, is the growing interest on the part of telecommunications service providers to deliver VoIP as part of their triple play bundle, typically a package of offerings that include cable television, broadband, and local and long distance telephoning. “The next migration is VoIP,” he said.The vCentrix platform meets FCC requirements stipulating that VoIP is e911-compliant. The company noted that its technology, which is not aimed at wireless users, forces subscribers to change addresses when they move.

The Norwood service will be priced at $24.99 a month and will include unlimited local and long distance calls. Subscribers are required to have at least two other Norwood Light services such as broadband, electricity, or cable. The initial wave of test users is scheduled to be hooked up this month.

To date, many municipalities have rolled out Wi-Fi services, although existing telephone companies have generally resisted the services. Philadelphia, for instance, is installing a citywide Wi-Fi hotspot, but the state of Pennsylvania has issued a moratorium on further municipal Wi-Fi build outs after telephone and cable industry interests voiced opposition.

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