The move to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems is proving attractive to both small and large players, despite an adoption of VoIP that has not been as rapid as telecom soothsayers had predicted. Some projects are slated for commercial deployment within the next few weeks, while others should be go live early next year.  Last month at the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA) annual meeting, delegates were told about advances being made in the VoIP sphere. It was suggested that small- and medium-sized cablecos could take advantage of the technology to roll out telephony to their subscribers. "The technology is pretty good today to offer VoIP solutions," Peter Makowchik of BIAC Broadband tells Network Letter. "We’ve done the business case and we feel it’s cost effective." His company plans to sell wholesale VoIP products to cable firms so they can offer telephone and multimedia services to high-speed Internet customers. BIAC will build the backbone technology, with the cable companies being responsible for installation, terminal equipment and customer management. Makowchik reports that several firms have signed on to test the service. Commercial deployment is targeted for next March. BIAC will set up central servers in Tier 1 cities with other boxes deployed in conjunction with the server or attached to class 5 switches across Canada. National rollout is dependent on which cablecos BIAC can sign up. The broadband firm is concentrating on smaller cable players because the larger cablecos have their own strategies. The major outfits such as Rogers Cable Inc. and Cogeco Cable Inc. have been looking at VoIP systems for years, but have stated that market conditions and technical hindrances have stood in the way of commercial rollout to date (NL, Nov. 6/01). Last week, Edward Rogers, president and CEO of the eponymous cableco, told The Globe and Mail the cableco hopes to be offering VoIP by 2005. That’s far too late for a small British Columbia company. Ron Saperstein, president of Whistler Cable, is ready to move early next year. "I’m going to try to roll out in the spring," he tells NL. "I think that February will be a good month to roll it out commercially. The excitement of the holidays has sort of ended and people are looking for something new before the summer." The company wants to offer subscribers a secondary phone line with free LD to Vancouver and limited free LD to other North American centres. Saperstein estimates his costs of deployment at $26.58 per month per customer. After adding its markup, Whistler proposes to sell its VoIP service for $39.95/month. "We have not launched VoIP on our network," Saperstein cautions. "We’ve just done some testing of different boxes and SIP phones on our network." Whistler is looking at BIAC and Galaxy Telecom as possible backbone providers. The final decision should be made by the end of this month or in November. City moves to VoIP One place that is moving toward VoIP is the City of Hamilton. The municipal government is introducing a VoIP system that will replace most of the city’s 4,000 desk phones at about 150 locations. The year-long project began last January with the kickoff and preliminary design. The pilot phase deployed phones to 45 workers at five locations in May and June. Full deployment ran from June until September, with the contact centre being established this month.  The project is due to be completed in November. The Hamilton system uses Cisco Systems’ AVVID service and Cisco IP phones. Bell Canada is the telecom carrier serving the municipal government. One company that has a long history of Internet carriage is Infonet Services Corp. Established in the United States in 1969, it moved into the Canadian marketplace two years later. The company is pleased with the move to IP services. "It’s clear that the area of IP is a very fast-growing area in general and it’s a fast-growing area for us," Jean-Noel Moneton, VP IP services for the company tells NL. "We have been an IP operator for a long, long time. We are quite happy to see that the IP services market, as most of the consultants see, is a fast-growing market." Although the IP trade is burgeoning, it is new subscribers who are most interested. IP does not interest traditional clients to the same degree. "Interestingly enough it’s very fast growing but we do not see the mass migration from frame relay, which is still the bulk of our revenues for network services for ATM towards IP," Moneton notes. "We mostly win new customers and we have a couple of migrations but it’s very limited." Infonet has a series of products and services available to its customers, with a new service scheduled to be unveiled this week. It targets large enterprises, such as banks and automobile companies. Financial institutions rely on the company for its trading floor divisions, Infonet’s Canadian manager reports. "The trading floor applications that run across the Internet network globally are typically the banks’ most mission-critical applications," Steve Brash explains to NL. "While the trading divisions of the banks are some of the smaller divisions, they typically make up the bulk of the profit. Therefore their mission-critical applications are very important to them and they’ve relied on Internet for literally decades now to provide them with global connectivity." Moneton expects that IP will blossom as customers gain confidence in the system. He expects his company to be at the forefront of the changes. "We have therefore developed a vision for IP that is centred around convergence," he states. "And not only convergence of applications, with data voice and video, but also convergence of infrastructure. And by that I mean private IP, together with public Internet type of IP."