Optimum Lightpath’s HD voice offering is as much about being just another hosted application as it is about better quality voice calls, said company officials.
“One of the great promises of hosted voice is as the feature server is upgraded, [customers] don’t have to pay for an upgrade, said John Macario, Optimum Senior Vice President, Product Strategy and Management. “They’re getting it as a part of an ongoing relationship with us… we believe as new features are available, they should be made available, that is really what this is about.”
Last week, Optimum announced the first business HD voice service in North America. The service is being delivered using BroadSoft’s (formerly GENBAND) M6 Communications Application Server and is designed to be an end-to-end, turn-key solution with a flat rate fee for bandwidth, minutes, support, and customer phones and service. Customers will get Cisco’s 7945 and 7965 IP phones and everything is designed for the G.722 codec from end-to-end. For a typical-sized medium to large-sized business, an all-inclusive service including phone and CPE, bandwidth, 24×7 monitoring and maintenance can work out to be $35 per seat per month.
Macario doesn’t expect HD voice to be for everyone. “Voice is not one size fits all, different companies have different needs,” he said. “We want to be able to offer them whatever solution is most appropriate.” Optimum provides everything from TDM to SIP trunks and Cisco Call Manager in addition to hosted VoIP and a premise-based solution.
However, potential customers for Optimum’s HD voice are expected to mirror the company’s core market of medium to large businesses, including hospitals, educational institutions, municipal and county governments and financial service clients. “HD voice is applicable where there needs to be crisp, clear, well understood communications, a doctor talking to a nurse in the middle of a noisy conference room, two guys on talks to each other on the trading floor,” said Macario. “It’s not our view that HD voice is a killer app, but it is of benefit in those situations where crisp, clear, well understood communication is necessary.”
By taking an intra-company approach to the offering at this time, Optimum doesn’t have to worry about a critical mass of end-points, codecs, or other interoperability issues. That’s not to say that the company isn’t thinking about HD Communications calls between its own customers and ultimately the rest of the world. “We’ve thought about it, and we still have a little run time,” said Macario. “We will wait and see where the demand is [for interconnecting and interoperability].”