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VOIP services

Colt Trots Out IP PBX Service

After launching an enterprise IP Centrex service last year, European carrier Colt Technology Services Group Ltd has now decided IP PBX is the way to go, adding a managed IP PBX service to its IP voice portfolio. (See COLT Offers Managed IP PBX.)

It first launched the Centrex service in April last year, but CEO Jean-Yves Charlier says customer feedback shows stronger demand for hosted IP PBX. (See Colt Carries VOIP to the Enterprise.) So where does that leave its IP Centrex partner, Siemens Communications Group , now that it's teaming with Avaya Inc. for IP PBX? (See Colt Uses Siemens for VOIP.) "We will continue to have both in our portfolio," Charlier says, but "most demand will be driven by IP PBX until Centrex has the [same] functionality."

The new service can either be hosted in Colt's data centers or at the customer premises, although the carrier expects to see more customers taking the hosted option. According to projections from Ovum Ltd. , hosted VOIP services will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 55 percent to 2009, compared with 35 percent for premises-based services.

The offering uses the same flat-rate pricing model as the IP Centrex service -- an installation charge of €20 (US$23.92) per user and a monthly tariff of €24.50 ($29.29) per user for calls to fixed lines within Colt's 13-country network. Colt reckons that saves enterprises around 20 percent on voice costs since they can ditch their traditional PBX systems.

This launch marks the second phase of Colt's "Total" converged voice and data service for small and mid-sized businesses. Charlier says the carrier has signed up more than 500 new customers since Total launched last October. (See COLT Offers Total Service.)

As part of that converged offering, Colt plans to roll out video telephony, voice recording, and ultimately, mobile services. Charlier says the carrier is "exploring various avenues of providing mobile services to our customers," including becoming an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), adding that a dualmode wireless LAN/3G phone will become a "core" part of its voice service offering down the road.

Dresdner Kleinwort upgraded Colt's stock from Hold to Buy on Tuesday in a nod to Colt's "Future in Focus" strategy, which leans on IP. (See COLT Posts Loss, Outlines Plans.) "Colt still faces competitive markets and pricing pressure, but we expect improving operational performance in 2006 as 'Future in Focus' initiatives are delivered," the analysts say in their note. "In a consolidating market, we expect Colt's embedded position with corporates, combined with significant synergy potential (both operational and tax) to attract interest."

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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