Qwest is the first of the local telephone companies to make plans to junk its old circuit switched network in favor of voice over IP pipes.
The Denver-based carrier announced Thursday that its customers in Boise, Idaho are already getting their phone calls routed via a data network using voice-over-IP technology. The Next six cities to get VoIP circuits are Albuquerque, Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Qwest isnt talking about supplementing its circuit switched network with data processing capabilities. It plans to completely replace its circuit switches with VoIP switches in 14 markets and has a contract awarded to Nortel Networks, said the company in a statement.
Qwest is on the leading edge of network evolution with its VoIP initiative among the Regional Bells. Voice over IP has been proven to perform well over adequately engineered IP networks, but it is not yet a widespread technology in the last-mile telephone world.
Qwest termination partners like ITXC say the regional Bells move might encourage similar actions by other telephone companies and touch off a revolution in next generation enhanced services.
"This is a significant opening in the market," said Tom Evslin, chief executive of ITXC. "The last mile is now beginning to turn into an IP last mile."