BayPackets Dials Into Telephony

BayPackets Inc. is the latest tele-phone-applications provider to cross-connect into the cable industry, announcing a new cable strategy and product aimed at MSOs now planning major deployments.

Fremont, Calif.-based BayPackets has developed a communications software-package that rides herd on network-based voice, data and multimedia applications. From a single point in the core network behind the Class-5 switch, the system collects call event data, provides applications such as virtual private network (VPN) connections and prepaid calling cards, and supplies tracking software to detect fraud attempts.

Up until now, BayPackets's customer base has consisted of telecom firms. But it's had a foothold in the cable industry for some time, through its involvement with Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s PacketCable initiative. Its first step into the cable-vendor world came earlier this summer, when Comcast Corp. selected its call record-keeping server for its IP-telephony rollout in Philadelphia.

Because BayPackets has built up systems around not only voice, but also data and multimedia, it's now well-positioned to extend itself more aggressively into the cable space, according to CEO Ken Epps.

"What has driving that has been more the pace at which we have been observing the cable guys being ready more so than us," Epps said.

Because BayPackets's software products operate in the core of the network, it is able to extend to any access network technology running across cable, telco or wireless links, be it circuit-switched or Internet-protocol based.

"Our strategy for the cable space is to extend a multiservice platform that we've already developed and proven in the packet world or circuit world and also can help customers who need to bridge from a circuit to packet world," Epps said. "We believe we can bring that capability to them at an underlying network level."

Epps also said BayPackets' applications will also be valuable to cable operators who are just entering the telephony market.

"When the cable guys come into this space, they should not tiptoe in, because the companies that they are going to be competing against are not going to stand idly by and let their customers leave, " Epps said. "So one of the ways for every competitor to keep customers they have and win ones they don't have is to have a very compelling service offering."

To that end, BayPackets will add a new application called Cable Call Manager. The application, which will probably be in beta form in first-quarter 2003, gives cable customers some TV-based call management features, including caller-ID display and the ability to transfer messages between devices.