Clarent Expands IP Telephony Offerings

IP telephony startup Clarent Corp. today will announce a partnership with networking systems integrator Supercom that is intended to extend its presence in the enterprise telecommunications space.

To date, Clarent, which sells IP telephony equipment and software, has sold mostly to carrier companies, the technology's early adopters. Carriers' usage of the Clarent products include the provision of long-distance, virtual private network, and inter-carrier services, according to company officials.

Through the non-exclusive deal, Supercom and its channel partners will offer turnkey IP telephony systems and services based on Clarent technology to business customers, according to Heidi Bersin, senior vice president of marketing at Clarent.

Clarent is banking on the deal to help expand its business to the corporate market, which has yet to commit to IP telephony.

For a monthly fee, the partnership will offer the requisite networking equipment, IP telephony gear and software, and bandwidth through Qwest Communications Inc., she explained.

The deal also calls for the creation of an IP telephony clearinghouse to extend the reach of the service across geographic regions.

"Corporations have been conservative and hesitant about investments in the new technology. Their (traditional) phones are universal, but intranets are limited in reach, and they don't want telephony to be an island," she said.

Clarent plans additional services deals, according to Bersin.

The company, based in Redwood City, California, claims more than 110 customers worldwide, and reports that its products last month handled roughly 140 million minutes of IP calls.

Bersin is bullish on prospects for IP telephony, despite the somewhat uncertain regulatory and cost picture.

"There has been some discussion of access charges and settlement rates for phone-to-phone calls, but for now, most entities have put the decision on hold. There might be some charges added, but they would be either at a lower rate, or equal to the declining cost of access charges in the U.S. There is also a tremendous effort against adding charges, especially as the distinctions among phones and Internet access devices blur," she said.

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