VOIP services

BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP

BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) has launched a residential VOIP service by reselling 8x8 Inc.'s (Nasdaq: EGHT) Packet8 service, Light Reading has learned.

The service, called BellSouth Digital Phone Service, has already been launched in one market -- Gainesville, Fla. -- and will be rolled out in more areas in the coming weeks, according to a BellSouth sales support team member. The service includes features such as caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, and the like.

The service will eventually be marketed to BellSouth's FastAccess broadband customers throughout the whole of the RBOC's service region, offering unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada for $29.99. The carrier also plans to extend the service to small business users for $59.95 per month.

The FastAccess service costs between $24.95 and $46.95 per month, depending on the speed of the connection.

In an email response to questions, BellSouth said: "We are broadening our portfolio of consumer services with BellSouth Digital Phone service. This new service is another example of our commitment to provide customers with the greatest choice when it comes to their communications and entertainment services. We expect customers to continue to benefit from traditional telephony bundles, as well as next generation offers. Our goal is to meet a variety of communications needs across our customer base."

8x8 spokesman Richard Medugno said his company had no comment to make at all, and then hung up.

BellSouth is currently developing its own broadband voice service, with Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) as its systems provider, but that's thought to be at least a year away from being ready. (See Lucent Lands BellSouth IMS Deal.)

In the meantime, the carrier is coming under competitive pressure from the likes of Vonage and cable operator Cox Communications Inc. (NYSE: COX), and likely felt the need to offer a VOIP service to its broadband users as soon as possible.

More than a year ago, BellSouth was reselling Vonage Holdings Corp.'s VOIP service in a limited test called "DSL Talking," a Vonage spokeswoman tells Light Reading. "I don't really have a reaction to them selling VOIP -- we welcome them to the marketplace," she says. "We already compete with 8x8 and other RBOCs who are selling their own form of VOIP. Now, BellSouth has been added to that list."

8x8's stock is up 22 cents, a hefty 18 percent, to $1.44 today. BellSouth's share price is up 22 cents, less than 1 percent, to $27.64. — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading, contributed to this story

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Harrier 12/5/2012 | 4:07:31 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP I have used both packet8 and Vonage and currenly using Vonage for VOIP telephone service. Both companies started from the ground up and quickly became the industry leaders and a field where non of the big players too an interested. Vonage started out with more money and as a consequence was able to market more and with more revenue have more services.

Packet8 took a strategy of keeping what services they had as quality and offering a discount because they did not have the full range of services Vonage had. Now that has changed. Packet offers the full range of service Vonage has and the quality for what they offer is excellent.

The two companies now offer the same service and both have done a great job in growing their companies. Vonage now has commercials on TV and spending a lot of time advertising. Packet8 has taken a strategy of word of mouth and getting their product in electronic stores as their product does well in selling itself.

One of the biggest knocks in with VOIP carriers is customer service on the technical side. The time it takes and effectiveness in solving the problem. In addition to that, keepimg your same number (called porting) also took longer than advertised. Some had nightmares. Since both use level 3 as their provider for porting both and all VOIP carriers suffered greatly in trying to manage this.

All this has changed. There have been many upgrades and now the two companies are emerging as very strong players with Vonage currently having the most customers for VOIP carriers and Packet8 2nd.

Because of this many large telephone companies have been losing customers to these VOIP carriers. In order to keep their customer base, the large players have been forced to try to roll out VOIP service. Still we are finding the large telecommunication players are charging almost twice as much.

Both Packet8 and Vonage offer wonderful service now at very competitive rates and offer a ton of services they would normally cost a lot of money using the regular home line service.

The technology is now refined, working great and very competitive with other services.

A very nice feature both companies offer is call blocking. That is if you get telmarketers calling you, you can simply have them blocked forever. You don't have to worry about them calling you 6 months later.

Free voice mail service, so you don't need an answering machine or call forwarding. If you want, you can even have your phone messages forwarded to you via e-mail.

I am a strong supporter of VOIP and prefer the Vonage and Packet 8. I use packet8 because they are less expensive and still trying had to gain more customers.

I live in Long Beach, CA
typically charges are like this:

Telephone Bill w/ no Long Distance = $35.00/Mo w/taxes

Dial up ISP = $10.00

High speed cable 3 Meg = $20.00/Mo
Packet8 telephone = $21.00/Mo

You actually save money and can also have highspeed internet service. More service less price.

The big guys are charging-last I checked $45.00/Mo and up.

optical_man 12/5/2012 | 2:51:14 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP Both have quality audio. Both are cheap.
However there are 4 striking differences (striking for Residential Users think they are getting transparency from BLS VoIP)

1) Vonage Messgages: Dial *123 (easy). Packet8 Messages: Dial 012-0555 (yeah, like I can remember that

2) Phone calls, local: Vonage: 10 Digit dialing. Packet8: EVERY CALL MUST BEGIN WITH A Country Code (1 for US)

3) Caller ID: Vonage, Name, when available, and Number. Packet8: NO Name, period. Only Number.

4) Vonage: full web access and control of your account, calls, call forwarding timeouts, call block lists, and voicemail. Packet8: you can SEE that you are subscribed to Packet8 as a VoIP customer on the website, but not much else.

Bottom Line: Vonage more closely emulates POTS. BLS is the oldest, old guard RBOC, so it's rather surprising that they went with "sump'in simlar to POTS, but sorta new agey, dudes"

Wonder if the brains in Atlanta actually thought of these little items before signing this deal.
Wonder what the Residential Consumer reaction will be in Birmingham, Baton Rogue, Jacksonville, Biloxi....
"what? No name on CallerID?!"
optical_man 12/5/2012 | 2:51:14 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP Packet8 price from Packet8 direclty:

Packet8 price when bought through BLS:

$120/year more to buy the same thing through BLS.

AND Packet8 has a no questions asked cancellation policy.
Whaddya wanna bet BLS makes you sign a 1 year deal with a $150 cancellation fee!
optical Mike 12/5/2012 | 2:51:12 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP Does anybody have any information that you would be willing to share on dial up performance over a VoIP line, for instance how much latency is too much and what other factors will influence dial up performance?
In theory I would expect dial up to connect and operate at maxim or close to but in researching the topic IGÇÖve been seeing conflicting results
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 2:51:10 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP optical Mike asks:
Does anybody have any information that you would be willing to share on dial up performance over a VoIP line, for instance how much latency is too much and what other factors will influence dial up performance?

I presume you're talking about modems?

Some issues I've run across:
300 baud FSK modems have problems because they don't transmit a tone in their preamble to allow the network to get echo cancellers out of the way. It's a real issue with home alarm systems.

Packet loss is a bigger problem than latency. Most modems tend to give up with even minor amounts of packet loss. The V.152 codec adds data redundancy to fix this. V.152 really only works for occasional packet loss.

Modems don't work at all over compression codecs. If you are using a VoIP service that doesn't support G.711 (vanilla uLaw or aLaw PCM as used in the telephone network), you're dead.

A poor codec implementation that doesn't do the right thing when it hears FAX/Modem tone will have issues. You're supposed to turn off the echo canceller, turn off your adaptive jitter buffer algorithm, and turn off your packet loss concealment algorithm. If you're running a compression codec, you have to signal to change over to G.711 or V.152 which is G.711 with redundancy. For FAX, you can use T.38 FAX relay.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 2:51:07 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP ccbonnet writes:
Alchemy, What happens if you do not turn off PLC and use G.711 on both sides for fax? Any references? Thanks.

I don't have any references for fax. My evidence is entirely emperical. With even minor 1% packet loss that you can't hear in normal voice conversations, fax performs horribly. I've never tried to run fax through a compression codec but I've been assured that it doesn't work. The jury is out on whether you need to turn off your G.168 echo cancellation for fax. I've always turned it off but I've seen other vendors leave it on with good results. I don't quite understand this since running PCM through an echo canceller always causes some audio degradation. As far as packet loss concealment goes, I guess it depends on what algorithm you're using. Many algorithms replace a lost packet with the previous frame of voice sampling. That appears to confuse a fax modem more than merely feeding it silence. Some other algorithm might behave better.
ccbonnet 12/5/2012 | 2:51:07 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP Alchemy, What happens if you do not turn off PLC and use G.711 on both sides for fax? Any references? Thanks.
optical Mike 12/5/2012 | 2:51:06 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP

Thank you for your reply I appreciate you sharing your experience it has been very useful in my testing and characterization of this issue.
ccbonnet 12/5/2012 | 2:51:04 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP Alchemy, thank you. I am trying to see if there is any work on how packet compensation works on fax. What happens in the results, how bad is it with/out PLC?. What is a good and a bad algorithm choice?..etc without having to do it on the labs. Yeah the fax related information is hard to come by.
fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 2:51:03 AM
re: BellSouth Launches Residential VOIP Modems over VoIP are an oxymoron, of course, but it's not quite as bad as it sounds here. 32 kbps ADPCM can support low-speed modems (up to maybe 9600) on a good day, when the wind is right. And some systems support T.38, which allows the originating codec to decode the modem, encapsulate the fax data in IP, and re-modulate it at the egress. So fax might get through even though you're blocked from dialing up your friendly local samizdat non-Bell ISP.
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