SBC to Launch VoIP Over DSL

by Colin C. Haley

The carrier also readies a more ambitious fiber-based offering.

SBC is testing residential Voice over IP service in four cities in preparation for a full rollout in early 2005, the regional telecom carrier said today.

The offering, which includes voice calling, a Web-based portal and call management features, is being used by several hundred SBC DSL customers in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Antonio, spokeswoman Sue McCain told internetnews.com.

Pricing for the yet-to-be-named service has not yet been set, but the monthly fees will be competitive with offerings currently on the market, McCain said.

The product is being provided through an undisclosed vendor and will be available next year in the 13 states (mostly in the Midwest and West) that SBC serves.

SBC's VoIP DSL push parallels its fiber rollout. SBC's goal is to make the fiber network available to 18 million households by the end of 2007.

Bringing fiber closer to homes will help SBC compete against cable companies by providing enough bandwidth to deliver a bundle of advanced services, including VoIP.

"You will see a different VoIP product [for fiber customers]," McCain said. "You'll see more enhanced features. It'll be the next phase."

Where the DSL service was developed by an outside vendor, the fiber-delivered version is likely to be home grown, McCain said.

By offering VoIP via DSL now, SBC hopes to prevent customers from jumping to other providers that are offering the service, including cable companies (Time-Warner), other telecoms (AT&T) and startups (Vonage).

When fiber begins appearing throughout SBC's footprint, the Baby Bell will make an effort to switch current DSL customers to fiber.

This article was originally published on Tuesday Nov 16th 2004