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Working with MetaSwitch, Municipalities Emerge as Innovative Service Providers


Communities turn to trusted, reliable softswitch provider to introduce enhanced voice services alongside high-speed broadband

Alameda, CA, March 2008. Just as they once constructed their own infrastructures for electricity and water supply, many municipalities are taking their future into their own hands by building leading-edge telecommunications systems. From coast to coast, communities are realizing that their economic success depends on high-speed broadband networks coupled with the most advanced communications services - and they are increasingly turning to MetaSwitch to realize that vision.

“MetaSwitch is helping municipalities take the significant step of providing their own telecommunications services by delivering leading-edge technology complemented by comprehensive system integration support,” said Paul Drew, vice president of professional services at MetaSwitch. “Our integration teams have experience from hundreds of softswitch and enhanced applications deployments, bringing the necessary expertise to ease the transition and ensure that these new services can be delivered to market quickly and cost-effectively.”

Widely recognized as one of the most forward-thinking municipalities in the country, Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU) is a 64-year-old municipal utility serving the city of Bristol, Va. In early 2000, BVU launched its unique network, OptiNet, to offer voice, video and data services within the city’s regional and metro areas. Three years ago, BVU OptiNet made a strategic decision to expand the scope of its services using the MetaSwitch class 4/5 softswitch.

The decision, according to Mark Lane, BVU director of network engineering, was based on MetaSwitch’s ability to deliver a next-generation softswitch that could operate in a PON-based infrastructure via any access protocol. “Initially we decided to deploy MetaSwitch based on the technology,” explained Lane. “We wanted to create an evolved service architecture that would deliver a superior voice product, with the quality and reliability you’d normally associate with traditional telecommunications providers.”

MetaSwitch’s packet-based architecture has enabled BVU OptiNet to build out its network beyond Bristol County. In addition, the company is leveraging MetaSwitch applications to offer a telecommuting services bundle to sign up larger, international companies that have established a presence in the region. For local businesses, BVU OptiNet offers a hosted PBX service, augmented by MetaSwitch’s MetaSphere service delivery platform (SDP), to provide unified messaging, auto attendant, conferencing, and music-on-hold. Residential customers can choose from a host of converged services, including Caller ID on their televisions, as either a standalone or as part of a triple-play package of voice, video and data services.

BVU was recently honored with a Digital Expo 2008 Smart Community Award by Last Mile Magazine, which recognized the community for employing innovative solutions in network deployment and applications, as well as fostering community involvement.

MINET, a non-profit public utility based in Oregon, operates a local fiber-optic telecom network delivering television, phone service and high-speed Internet access to the cities of Monmouth and Independence. In business for nearly two years, MINET has been deploying the MetaSwitch VP3510 integrated softswitch for its fiber-to-the-home network for the past 12 months to deliver a triple-play bundle of voice, video and data. The company uses a Broadband PON (BPON)-based infrastructure with a voice-over-ATM network to effectively reach its 3,000 business and residential subscribers. MINET also has plans to deploy Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services in the future.

“Deploying the MetaSwitch couldn’t have been easier,” explained Phil Garrett, general manager, MINET. “We were pleasantly surprised by how straightforward it was to get our customers provisioned using the switch. MetaSwitch’s responsive team and ongoing maintenance and support ensure that we consistently deliver high-quality, reliable services to our customers. We have also been impressed with the MetaSwitch MarketVisions program, which is helping us effectively market these services to our community.”

Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES), in business for 60 years, serves the city and surrounding areas of Bristol, Tenn. One year ago, BTES registered as a local exchange carrier and added telephone service to its slate of high-speed Internet and cable television offerings, packaging these services into a triple-play bundle to be delivered via its all-fiber optic network.

Prior to purchasing and installing the equipment necessary to start offering telephony services, BTES did an analysis of several different equipment and software providers, ultimately deciding to deploy the MetaSwitch softswitch because “MetaSwitch is an organization with a solid support system,” according to BTES chief executive officer, Dr. Mike Browder.

Currently, BTES provides basic and enhanced telephone services, including caller ID and unconditional call forwarding, to nearly 3,500 business and residential customers. The company plans on expanding with MetaSwitch to make this service available to all its customers. Plus, BTES believes that offering telephony services is a key tool in recruiting business and industry to the community.

“BTES chose MetaSwitch because of its interoperability with our other equipment, allowing for a complete voice services delivery platform that is easy to provision and easy to use,” explained Browder. “Moving quickly from zero customers to ’any’ customers, it was imperative to partner with a solution provider that had been through the process before and understood what was required. MetaSwitch helped make this transition as easy as possible and continues to offer excellent support and resources, allowing BTES to deliver the best service to its customers.”

The city of Windom is a regional transportation hub in southwestern Minnesota. For more than 100 years, Windom Municipal Utilities (WMU) has provided residents with electric, water and wastewater services. In 2005, WMU rebranded as Windomnet and launched a citywide fiber-to-the-home network in order to provide cable television, high-speed Internet and telephone services to 2,000 homes and 300 businesses. After numerous vendor interviews, evaluations and customer references, Windomnet chose MetaSwitch as its VoIP telephone softswitch supplier.

“Choosing the right vendor partners was crucial in the process of building out and running this network,” explained Dan Olsen, director of operations at Windomnet. “It was particularly important to pick the right vendor, because voice really is the most fundamental communications service.”

Currently, Windomnet is using its MetaSwitch platform to provide voice-over-fiber using traditional TDM voice-over-fiber, but according to Olsen, Windomnet plans to transition to VoIP later this year to offer hosted PBX-type services to businesses in the community.


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