Customers of AT&T's VPN can now take advantage of voice-over-IP services over the network cloud, according to the carrier.
The converged offering, AT&T announced Aug. 24, will enable customers to consolidate voice and data networks, reduce equipment and maintenance costs, and ultimately take advantage of new applications as they become available.
"Voice service is as mission-critical for businesses today as it's ever been, and customers expect their VOIP service to perform as well as their traditional telephone service," Shawn Conroy, AT&T vice president of Business Solutions, said in a statement. "Adding voice to the network cloud gives customers the ability to determine their optimal level of security, architecture, cost and performance objectives-key differentiators for AT&T."
AT&T's VOIP calling plans include unlimited local, "on-net" long-distance and "off-net" long-distance international calling, as well as more traditional calling features, such as caller ID, voice mail, local number porting, e-911 and conferencing.
Its VOIP services include IP Flexible Research, a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking service that enables businesses to continue enjoying the capabilities of their existing IP-PBX systems to optimize their equipment investment, and Voice DNA, a fully hosted network-based service with various applications and management tools. AT&T's VOIP portfolio is certified for compatibility with popular IP-PBX offerings, such as "SIP trunking services qualified for Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2," AT&T said in a statement.
VPN networks offer enterprises a secure way to connect various offices with remote workers and third parties such as suppliers or customers, and VOIP services can complement these capabilities.
AT&T officials added that the service "uses data and analytics from call handling, routing, congestion and performance to detect and manage services proactively for optimized availability. This intelligence is coupled with specific routing capabilities that are layered on top of basic IP routing to provide quality of service and improved performance."
AT&T's VPN technology, which is built on MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) architecture, is currently offered in 163 countries.
Earlier in summer 2010, AT&T competitor Barracuda Networks introduced a line of VPN and security offerings with a particular emphasis on features appealing to small-business customers.