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Optical/IP

AT&T Waits on Lightspeed VOIP

Project Lightspeed, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s new fiber-based services bundle, will launch in San Antonio next month and will contain broadband and video service -- but VOIP won't be a part of the June launch, Light Reading has learned.

The carrier is, however, gearing up to roll out residential VOIP services in a huge way as part of its multibillion-dollar access network makeover. AT&T won't say when it will start offering VOIP, but it has acknowledged that it's in its playbook. “We’ve said that we will offer VOIP services as part of our U-Verse portfolio, but I really can’t get into any more detail at this time,” says AT&T spokesman Wes Warnock.

“We’re continuing with our strategy of bundling services together, and we feel we can provide value to customers by offering all-in-one entertainment and communications packages,” Warnock says.

Even though it won't give rollout specifics, AT&T's partners say they've been working hard to make sure VOIP is supported in the new Lightspeed-related platforms, especially the home gateway and softswitches.

2Wire Inc. and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) say they've made their gear interoperable, and 2Wire's home gateway product, the HomePortal 3000, has been designed to act as a central hub for IP services, including VOIP.

“We’ve been engaged with Lucent since last summer,” 2Wire’s product manager for gateway products, Steve Gorretta, tells Light Reading. “We’ve been working with them quite a bit in the last eight to twelve months.”

Lucent, which is AT&T's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) platform vendor/integrator of choice, is pointed to by Gorretta as the softswitch vendor that the carrier is using for its residential VOIP service.(See SBC Jumps on Lucent IMS Bandwagon.)

2Wire says it originally produced a generic version of the gateway it would sell to AT&T, then baked in the rest of the feature set based on the carrier’s specific requests. (See AT&T to Launch Lightspeed Next Month.)

The 2Wire gateways contain two built-in ports for VOIP service, as well an 802.11g-enabled wireless access point, remote management capability, a firewall, and wireless security, the company says.

2Wire says its gateway can also act as a convergence point for dualmode VOIP over WiFi/cellular service. AT&T has hinted at rolling out such a service, leveraging its Cingular Wireless property.

U-verse won't be AT&T's first foray into VOIP. The company's CallVantage VOIP service was launched by the old AT&T two years ago with a goal of hitting 1 million subscribers by the beginning of 2006. It later backed off that goal after signing up only 53,000 by the end of 2004.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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