China Unicom Goes with Cisco for VoIP

China United Telecommunications Corp. (China Unicom), China's second-largest carrier, Thursday announced it has contracted with Cisco Systems Inc. to build a nationwide voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) network.

The network, which will allow residents of 319 cities in 30 provinces to make calls over a packet network, will be the world's largest, the companies said in a statement. The national capital, Beijing, will sit at the hub of the network, with supporting hubs in the cities of Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

VoIP technology uses a packet network to carry voice calls and can provide cost savings over a traditional telephone service because each call does not require its own dedicated circuit. In addition, VoIP networks are built using data routers and switches instead of proprietary telephone equipment.

Cisco will supply routers and switches for the backbone of the China Unicom network, as well as software for managing prepaid and postpaid VOIP services, the companies said. Gateway device-maker NetSpeak Corp. and billing software vendors Mind CTI Ltd. and Belle Systems A/S also will help build the network.

China, with its vast population and relatively limited traditional telephone network, is expected to be a major market for VoIP. The country's dominant carrier, China Telecom Ltd., already operates an extensive VoIP network. http://www.china-unicom.com

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