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NEW YORK - In a first among major United States telecommunications companies, Verizon is deploying advanced packet-switching technology to serve local business and consumer lines. The program is under way in California and Washington state.
The state-of-the-art technology will make Verizon's network more reliable, and the new switches pave the way for a broad array of new services for local businesses and consumers in the future. The new packet switches will replace existing technology known as circuit switches. Telecommunications switches are at the heart of Verizon's networks and direct voice traffic from the person making to the call to the person being called.
Company technicians are currently installing packet-switching systems in five southern California communities: Temecula, Elsinore, Homeland, Baldwin Park and Azusa. Installation of a sixth packet switch is also under way in Mount Vernon, Wash. The six switches - provided by Nortel Networks -- are expected to come on line later this year.
Customers served by the new packet switches in California and Washington will continue to receive the same voice and data services at the same price, and customers will not be required to change equipment.
"This is a major step forward in building our next-generation network," said Paul Lacouture, president of Verizon's Network Services Group.
The new packet-switching systems - also known as softswitches - are based on the same technology used to send data through the Internet. Until now, circuit-switching systems have been the standard for routing calls in telecom networks.
Packet switch technology can be combined with innovative Internet service capabilities to provide a wide array of advanced services to customers in the future. For example, in the future, customers will be able to monitor their incoming and outgoing calls, keep a log of all calls, automatically route incoming calls to a cell phone or other locations, and manage all their calling and e-mail traffic on a personal computer.
Today's announcement follows Verizon's launch in Keller, Texas, on May 19 of a program to build fiber-optic networks to connect homes and businesses to the network using a technology called fiber to the premises (FTTP). Verizon plans to deploy fiber systems to pass as many as 1 million homes and businesses this year. These two powerful new technologies are widely expected to provide even more advanced services that are far superior to those available from other telecommunications service providers, including cable TV networks.
"We continue to transform our wireline network," Lacouture said. "Of course, we expect this transformed network to improve revenue growth for the company, but, also importantly, it will expand services for customers nationwide."
Lacouture added that deployment of the new switches will change the way Verizon's network handles voice traffic. Today, a traditional voice call relies on a distinct circuit for the duration of the call or transmission. While that call is going on, that circuit cannot be used for anything else. In a packet-switching environment, the call is broken up into chunks - or packets - and transmitted over links that are also being used to transmit packets of data information such as Internet access, as well as many other calls. This sharing of the network for voice, data and video means the network can handle far more traffic.
Verizon began deploying this advanced technology in its network in 1999, in the form of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) gateways to connect local customers with some long-distance networks. In 2002, Verizon began installing packet switches in parts of the company's inter-city network. A year later, Verizon deployed softswitches in segments of the company's long-distance network to carry national calls using VoIP technology.
A Dow 30 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.