Covad Offers Voice Service in Bay Area
The company uses its DSL infrastructure to add voice telephony to its data services.Covad Communications Group Inc. is taking on the entrenched local telephone company in San Francisco today by adding voice telephony to its data services. If all goes as planned, Covad will expand telephone service to as many as 15 other U.S. cities by the end of next year. More than six years after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted to spur competition, one of the few surviving rivals to the incumbent carriers is breaking into the traditionally monopolistic local telephone market. The company can afford to take on the incumbents because it is using infrastructure already in place for its DSL (digital subscriber line) services. To get the voice-over-DSL service, called TeleXchange, a business adds to its phone system a single integrated access device, which converts voice signals into a data stream, enabling a single wire to carry both types of traffic. Covad is partnering with Focal Communications Inc., which converts the voice traffic back into voice signals before sending it over the public switched telephone network.
According to Covad officials, the voice quality is comparable to that of traditional telephone service. Voice communications over the Internet continue to be dogged by quality issues, but Covad minimized the distance the voice signals travel as data signals, making it "a very short hop as VoDSL," said Todd Kiehn, senior product manager at Covad in Santa Clara, Calif.