Another piece of the puzzle of what CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL, news, filings) will become is falling into place. Jointly with Sonus Networks (NASDAQ:SONS, news, filings) today, they announced the successful implementation of a large scale VoIP network that will bring substantial amounts of the largely rural ILEC's TDM voice traffic onto its core IP backbone. The new voice network, which was built in under four months, includes media gateways, policy management, and session border control solutions from Sonus across 22 cities and leverages the company's fiber backbone.
While all carriers use VoIP in one form or another, CenturyLink and other largely rural ILECs have not generally been at the forefront. Subscribers to the copper lines they operate may be declining, but that infrastructure will remain important for a long time to come and CenturyLink is happily consolidating it. However, we can now see that copper last mile eventually as simply on-ramps to a converged IP/MPLS core rather than the traditional PSTN. Of course, we're not there yet, this is just step one for CenturyLink's VoIP offer.
A few weeks ago, of course, CenturyLink announced plans to buy Qwest - which has a more extensive IP network and has been quite active in VoIP services. I'll be curious to see how CenturyLink''s Sonus-based VoIP network fits into the overall picture when the two are combined.
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