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Altitude Telecom Maxes on Voice

French service provider Altitude Telecom is to launch voice services over 802.16 technology in June this year, Unstrung has learnt.

The operator plans to offer voice-over-IP services based on the fixed wireless 802.16d standard, aimed at enterprise customers in Normandy, Paris, and Vendée. A consumer market service is tipped for deployment in September. Altitude’s offering is based on "pre-WiMax" standard equipment from Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), using the 3.5GHz frequency band (see Alvarion Networks in France).

“We have upgraded our network to support voice over IP, by enabling priorization of voice traffic on our network,” says Thomas Bardin, marketing manager at Altitude Telecom. “We were anxious about the quality of VOIP communications over WiMax, but we have been positively surprised. We have been testing this service internally for two months.”

The operator demonstrated the technology in Normandy earlier this week, placing VOIP calls between two remote sites and a WiMax base station.

French minister of industry, Patrick Devedjian, was eager to praise Altitude’s progress. “In August 2000, we granted 54 wireless local loop licenses to 14 companies. Five years later, Altitude Telecom is the only player on the French market. This small French company is an example of innovation... The merger of wireless technologies like WiMax and voice over IP will be a revolution in the landscape of telecommunications.”

Altitude is keen to acquire further spectrum from local regulator Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) in an effort to expand its WiMax network later this year.

Aside from 802.16 technology, Altitude Telecom also offers VOIP services on xDSL networks. “We guarantee to our business clients a 50 percent reduction on their telephony invoice,” adds Bardin.

Earlier this week, fellow European service provider, Talktelecom Ltd., announced its own plans to launch VOIP services using 802.11 local-area networking technology (see VOWLAN Service Launched).

— Alain Coffre, special to Unstrung

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