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Microsoft, Interoute plan VoIP peering system

Microsoft and pan-European carrier, Interoute, plan to launch a service by June that will enable businesses using the software giant’s Live Communications Server (LCS) to interconnect their VoIP calls within “three mouse-clicks”.

LCS, soon to be renamed Office Communications Server 2007, presents a competitive challenge to conventional business-VoIP systems by knitting telephony into Microsoft’s desktop applications: a user can, for example, launch voice or video calls by clicking on names in Outlook, Word or Messenger.

Currently, businesses that want to make free calls to each other using the system have to set up peering agreements on a case-by-case, or bilateral, basis. Interoute’s iSip LCS, however, will act as a multilateral federation for LCS users, allowing them to quickly peer when they want to.

“It’s much more rational to say ‘I want to federate with everyone and pick and choose who I am visible to,'” said John Wilkinson, head of voice services for Interoute, at an IIR conference on ENUM in London last week.

Like Skype, Interoute will charge only for calls made to the PSTN, mobiles and other normal phone numbers, aside from a “very small” software-licence fee it is obliged by regulation to ask for in some markets.

The carrier is instead gambling that iSip LCS will help it upsell wide-area network (WAN) services to users looking for more security and quality of service. “It’s a market-entry point to better compete with the big WAN providers,” said Wilkinson.

However, few LCS users are thought to be exploiting its VoIP features. A managed LCS service launched by BT in May 2005, for example, spent more than a year in technical trials and is now marketed largely on the back of instant messaging and presence.

One UK operations director of a pan-European business service provider says “not one” of his top corporate customers is interested in the idea of a converged desktop. “It’s not even on their radar,” he says.


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