Vendors, Service Providers Think UC Is a Big Deal

Carl Weinschenk

Two news items that hit during the past two weeks, one today and one on December 9, will lead to a lot more unified communications in the near future.

Last week, BT and Cisco said they "have deepened" their relationship by creating a cloud-based UC service that is designed to bring the value of cloud-based services -- reduced capital expenditures and speedier deployments -- to UC. The service will launch in the U.S. and Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) next year and Asia at some point in the future. Computerworld reports that the service, which already is available in the UK, is based on BT's multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technology that is available in 170 countries. Data centers to support the new UC service will be built in Chicago and New York City, the story says.

The other announcement is a bit more roundabout. Today,, a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) with a nationwide presence, said it is opening up its FlexNetwork to wholesale customers. indeed announced three customers: ifbyphone, Yext and OnState. Those three and others will use the all-IP network to offer customers any IP-based service. They also can use FlexNetwork's number management system.

At the highest level, the deals are quite different. One is expressly aimed at UC and will directly address end users worldwide. The other doesn't mention UC directly and is a step removed by aiming at service providers who, in turn, will offer it to end users. It's also limited to the U.S. market.

But what the deals have in common is the fact they make UC significantly more accessible to a large group of people on a wide geographic basis. In a more general sense, the two announcements join others of the past few weeks -- including the continuing drive by Cisco to acquire Tandberg and Avaya's assumption, via an auction win, of Nortel's UC assets-that point directly or indirectly to the value that vendors and service providers place on UC.

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