Telecom equipment giant Alcatel is expected to announce plans to deploy Voice-over-Digital Subscriber Lines this week, likely giving the technology a jump-start.
DSL is used to provide high-speed data access over copper telephone wires. With VoDSL, service providers can offer eight to 12 voice channels along with data over an individual telephone line. That makes the technology especially attractive to small businesses, which can get all of their voice and data needs satisfied for about $200 per month.
Paris-based Alcatel is the leader in U.S. DSL deployment. About 1.5 million of the roughly 2.3 million DSL lines installed at the end of last year were provisioned with Alcatel equipment; most were installed by regional Bells BellSouth, SBC Communications and Verizon Communications.
Given Alcatels deep penetration in DSL, adding a VoDSL portfolio could be lucrative. Consultancy TeleChoice predicts the VoDSL market will grow from 40,000 lines enabled for the technology in 2000 to 550,000 by 2002 and 2 million by 2004.
"Obviously Alcatel has strong ties with the [regional Bells] and . . . established relationships with Verizon, SBC, and BellSouth," said Adam Guglielmo, an analyst at TeleChoice. "Even given that close relationship, a lot of their success would depend on jumping through the regular hoops of the [regional Bells] procurement cycle."
VoDSL is subject to the limits of DSL, which has been plagued by technological and customer-service problems.
Companies offering VoDSL solutions include Accelerated Networks, General Bandwidth, Jetstream Communications, TollBridge Technologies and CopperCom, with which Alcatel has a reselling agreement.