First Commercial VoWiFi Service Launches

5 May ’05

That was fast. Hot on the heels of my post yesterday about the accelerating buzz about Voice over WiFi, Rio Rancho, New Mexico has announced what appears to be the first commercial VoWiFi service:

Carrier-class voice-over-Wi-Fi telephone service, the first of its kind in a U.S. metro deployment, is now available in Rio Rancho, N.M.

The service, developed by Azulstar Networks and its partner, Ecuity Advanced Communications Inc., offers carrier-class fixed and mobile service and will be available on the Rio Rancho network, which now covers about 60 percent of the city.

Azulstar announced the new service at the W2i Digital Cities conference in Philadelphia. The service is designed to provide a cost-effective IP-based alternative to traditional “local loop” service provided by telecommunications companies.

Rio Rancho’s network is a converged voice, data and video solution. It uses 200 high-performance Meru Network Wi-Fi access points provided by Meru Networks Inc., connected to a pre-WiMax backbone from Proxim Corp. that provides the backhaul to Azulstar’s NOC (network operations center) and the Internet. Ecuity provides call transport onto the traditional phone network and vice versa.

Time to start thinking about whether you want to lock into a long-term celphone contract …. This illustrates quite clearly why the wireless telcos have been bare-knuckling muniwifi so vociferously

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