General Bandwidth launches new product to help ILECs migrate into broadband The rapid rollout of high-speed networks in Canada has given an Austin TX start-up the potential market base it needs to beef up sales of its voice-over-broadband (VoB) equipment in this country. Seventeen-month-old General Bandwidth announced Oct. 17 that it is opening sales offices in Toronto and London UK in the first phase of its international expansion. More offices across Canada are planned. Report on Wireless met with General Bandwidth’s VP of product management, Sean Parham in, Ottawa during the company’s recent roadshow through Canada to promote its new carrier-class gateway, which can deliver toll-quality voices services across DSL, cable, wireless and other last-mile broadband networks. Heading up its sales and technical service operations in Canada is Angela Draskovic, who worked at Lucent Technologies Canada for more than 13 years in various sale positions, including area VP of sales. She says Canadian service providers – particularly incumbent telcos – are seriously looking at VoB as a way to reduce their cost of delivering local tele-phony and next generation services. Migrating to VoB would also allow incumbent telcos to move from switched to packetized delivery of voice services, without abandoning their legacy networks. The company’s strategy hinges on developing local support, which Parham says is essential to the company’s strategy whether in Canada or in the other parts of the world. "(Draskovic) is very familiar with both Telus and Bell, as well as competitive service providers offering broadband service via cable or wireless," he says. The company’s G6 VoB gear is being market tested with some of the United States’ largest operators, and the first customer shipments are expected in January. As a technology and protocol agnostic platform, the G6 can accommodate all network standards and protocols. Parham says their main target market is large carriers, which want a single product that can natively support DSL, wireless, cable, ATM, IP, Class 5, Softswitch and all other protocols. They also want a product that is better suited for large scale deployment, rather than small niche markets. "We really decided to build from the ground up a product which was specifically targeted at these major service providers and their needs," he told Report on Wireless. "They don’t want to deploy multiple different boxes, manage, operate and support all of those boxes." General Bandwidth’s focus on ILECs and residential markets is in stark contrast to its main competitors, many of which are targeting the small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) or CLEC markets. But as Parham points out, the success of next-generation broadband services will ultimately depend on how quickly they’re rolled out by established carriers to a mass residential market. "The CLEC and (SME) market is the bellwether. It’s an easier way of getting to trial and to work out some technologies, but it doesn’t (gain broad acceptance) until the big guys and the residential market are able to be captured," he explains. The strategy seems to be paying for the company. It has raised about US$33 million in venture financing since its founding in May 1999, and is poised to land about another US$50 million this week. Some of the investors in this third round of financing are expected to be SBC Venture Captial Corp, an SBC Communications Inc company, and Thomas Weisel Partners.