Innovative Service

Universal Access, Chicago; IXTC, Princeton, N.J.

This category features our final tie, between two service providers that have taken advantage of the competitive market in different ways.

IXTC, headed by CEO Tom Evslin, provides global call completion to the full range of the worlds carriers, using a voice-over-IP backbone with points of presence in 117 countries. In June, ITXC signed an alliance with the Telecommunications Cooperative of Santa Cruz to be the exclusive network provider for the domestic and international service COTAS plans to provide when service deregulation takes effect in Bolivia Nov. 28. The agreement marks the first time a primary phone-to-phone service has been planned based solely on a VoIP network. ITXC expects this to become the preferred means by which competitive carriers establish service presence.

"These folks have suffered through the ups and downs of voice-over-IP without losing their focus, and the business model is starting to pay off for them and their customers," Mendyk says.

CEO Patrick C. Shutts Universal Access is taking advantage of the fact that no single network operator can build a physical connection to every site required by its customers. The company is a neutral third party that doesnt own a network, but instead has developed an extensive database that chronicles availability of connections over a multitude of networks. Universal Access becomes the neutral interface for service provider customers to order connections over others networks. In addition, Universal Access has deployed carrier-neutral interconnection facilities in every major telecom hub.

"Universal Access has innovatively leveraged knowledge, rather than just technology, to build a business on top of what is rapidly becoming a commodity," Mine says.

Others receiving votes: Clarent, Tellme Networks

Previous winner: 2nd Century Communications (2000)