Another large data vendor took steps last week to add phone
capabilities to its high-speed-data-product mix.
3Com Corp. -- the lead vendor in Tele-Communications
Inc.'s aggressive high-speed-data-deployment plans -- aligned last week with
Beaverton, Ore.-based eFusion Inc. to jointly produce IP-phone (Internet-protocol)
In the arrangement, eFusion will link its telephony
gateways to 3Com's "Total Control" equipment, agreeing to ensure product
interoperability for electronic Internet commerce and business call-center applications.
Ross Manire, senior vice president of 3Com's
carrier-systems division, called the alliance "a natural fit" that "ensures
that network operators can quickly and efficiently adapt to the evolving global
marketplace using a scaleable, software-based architecture."
3Com said that by working with eFusion, it can now add
Internet call waiting, which lets users accept or decline incoming IP phone calls, instead
sending calls to a voice-mail box.
Plus, 3Com will incorporate eFusion's
"push-to-talk" feature, which lets subscribers originate calls from the Internet
to phones or call centers, so that shoppers can converse with merchants while continuing
to view Web content, executives said.
Ajit Pendse, president and CEO of eFusion, said in a
prepared statement that the technology combination offered by both companies is important
to network operators because of the additional revenue opportunities that it provides.
Michael Harris, an analyst with Kinetic Strategies Inc.,
said 3Com's moves match those of other big data vendors, as they all scramble to cram
features into the cable-modem and data mix.
"Anyone that makes a router is looking to add IP
services to it, and this is another example," Harris said.
He added that the interesting angle to the 3Com/eFusion
arrangement is the fact that 3Com's Total Control chassis is also the chassis that it
is using to populate DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service/Interoperability Specification) modem
boards, "so this clearly transfers over to the cable-modem area."
Last month, TCI selected 3Com and three other vendors as
the prominent players in its high-speed-data plans. 3Com locked up orders for both headend
and cable-modem gear, and it was the only vendor selected to supply both ends of the data
TCI and several other MSOs have repeatedly described
themselves as "bullish" on IP telephony, and they have pointed to next year as a
time when additions to the DOCSIS specification, as well as a newer DOCSIS version, will
pave the way for trials and commercial deployments of the service.