Voxpath Takes Aim at VoIP Over PBX

Voxpath Networks Inc. is pitching a voice-over-Internet protocol service that cable operators’ commercial-services units can sell to small and medium-sized businesses contemplating a shift to Internet protocol-based private switchboards.

Voxpath hopes to take advantage of a number of marketplace trends to sell its integrated VoIP package — which includes marketing and operations support — to cable companies.

First, businesses are looking at VoIP solutions as a way to reduce their overall telecommunications costs.

Shifting to an IP private-branch exchange (PBX) switchboard system could result in capital savings of 80% and operational-expense savings of 20%, Voxpath said.

That’s prompting businesses to replace their current circuit-switched PBXs with IP-based ones at a rate of 15% a year, according to Voxpath vice president of marketing Gary Fortin.

That shift presents a golden opportunity for cable operators, who’ve begun pitching voice-over-IP telephony to their residential data subscribers.

Voxpath wants operators to also turn their attention to VoIP for business. It’s pitching its Voxpath Unity Platform to cable companies.

The platform consists of a public switched-telephone network (PSTN) gateway/media server; application server; Signaling System 7 (SS7) gateway device; and Vox Link Web and VoxManager servers that would sit next to a cable operator’s regional data center.

Business traffic from the PSTN would flow through that Unity platform, through a cable company’s router, cable-modem termination system and hybrid fiber-coaxial plant to a business subscriber.

Within that business, Voxpath would install an IP service gateway and, potentially, Voxpath IP phones.

That’s the setup Voxpath has used in field trials with Time Warner Cable’s division in Austin, Texas.

“We deployed it in 45 days, and [Time Warner] is making money off this,” he said. “It works. It’s successful.”

Fortin said Time Warner is serving 500 phone users across 50 businesses using the Voxpath architecture in Austin.

It could cost an MSO from $800 to $1,000 per port to cobble the IP platform together from various vendors, Fortin said. Voxpath’s Unity platform costs $200 per port, he said.

At 1,000 users, he estimated, a cable operator could achieve cash-flow breakeven in four months.

Voxpath chief technology officer Alaric Silveira said cable companies would be able to share the SS7 gateway device across many points of presence.

For instance, Time Warner can serve other Texas markets via the Austin SS7 gateway, Silveira said.

IP PBX technology appeals to business, Silveira said, because cuts down on their capital costs.

“They will get the same features and functions as their existing PBX; it’s just delivered as a service from the network,” Silveira said.

Those businesses have several customer-premises equipment options, he said. They can buy a Voxpath IP phone with full feature sets; buy terminal adapters that can plug into existing phones, but provide fewer features; or use session-initiated protocol equipment.

Fortin said Voxpath also provides launch, operations, marketing and training programs to help operators get the new service off the ground.

“It’s business in a box,” he said.

The marketing elements included scripted phone calls for MSOs, to determine which companies may be in the market for IP PBXs in the next year — including existing business-data customers.