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Enterprise VoIP On Verizon's Horizon

With AT&T and other large carriers plunging headlong into the race for voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services--and developments in that area moving faster than the eye can see--Verizon's announcement this week of its VoIP enterprise-network deployment still counted as big news.

The company has committed nearly 10 million miles worth of high-speed networking lines to carry IP traffic, and most customers won't have to ditch their current equipment to use it -- a detail that's sure to make corporate telecom and network managers very interested in Verizon's offerings.

Unfortunately, Verizon also timed another announcement--a rise in DSL
fees--that makes it look suspiciously like consumer customers will be
paying for the network. The company says the new DSL charges are
meant to cover mandated Universal Service Fund charges, and, indeed,
they're not the only carrier to take that action. BellSouth and SBC
Communications are also jacking up their DSL access fees for the same
reason. But Verizon essentially opened itself up to some criticism by
bringing out these two pieces of new simultaneously.

Strategically, Verizon's focus probably isn't off base. The enterprise
is still where most of the VoIP action is, and, certainly, where the
big dollars are to be made. Also, in the absence of much regulation
of the VoIP market (not to mention calls for skipping VoIP regulation
outright), this is the time to move ahead with initiatives and cement
some market share where it most counts.

Verizon's enterprise focus and swift action will benefit its customers and its bottom line. But the company should probably also remember that corporate telecom buyers are also potential Verizon home customers.

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