Millennium Taps Net2Phone for VoIP

Net2Phone signed a five-year deal with Millennium Digital Media to supply the 128,000-subscriber MSO with voice-over-Internet Protocol telephony equipment and services.

Millennium, which serves subscribers in suburban Baltimore; Lansing, Mich.; Seattle; and Oregon, plans a first quarter 2005 roll out of VoIP service, including call waiting, caller ID, voicemail and online account management tools.

“Every operator needs to look at new business opportunities,” said Peter Smith, senior vice president of programming and product development at Millennium Digital Media. He said VoIP is an inevitable platform for Millenium. “It will also provide an additional retention strategy.”

Smith said Millennium chose Net2Phone’s session initiated protocol (SIP) technology for two reasons. “We could get into the market more quickly and in more places with SIP,” he said. And “SIP is a little more of an open platform, and might have more product enhancements.”

The choice of Net2Phone for a small operator like Millennium was natural, Smith said. “We’re not in a position [in terms of] capital resources and human resources to do the telephony infrastructure with soft switches, gateways, et cetera.”

Net2Phone will provide provisioning and billing integration delivered in a Millenium invoice, class 5 features, advanced services, network surveillance tools, local and LD interconnects and operator services and directory assistance.

Michael Pastor, president of Net2Phone Cable Telephony, said the cost structure for PacketCable doesn’t always make sense for some markets, so his company offers both PacketCable and SIP solutions. “Millennium wanted to look at a centralized SIP approach,” he said, “and the overall economics look very appealing.”

Net2Phone will support all of Millennium’s markets from its soft-switch facility in New Jersey. Residential gateways will be deployed behind the cable-modem termination systems in each Millennium market for local call termination and origination. Net2Phone offers four multimedia terminal adapters that Millenium can use.

One major difference between SIP and PacketCable is quality of service standards. But Pastor said Net2Phone has developed toolsets to provide QOS attributes on SIP platforms that operators can use. “We can insure quality by making sure the peering point has sufficient bandwidth to support the volume of VoIP traffic,” he said.

Net2Phone also is considering the addition of policy servers to its SIP solution, which will allow it to offer guaranteed levels of service.

Smith said Millennium hasn’t decided on final pricing, but said “we don’t intend to join the race to the bottom. This service has enormous value. We don’t feel there is a need to give it away.” Millenium will offer VoIP in bundle with voice, video and data, he said, as well as a data and voice bundle only. Millennium also enrolled in Net2Phone’s warrant incentive program, allowing it to earn warrant grants to purchase shares of common stock.