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SAN FRANCISCO—NEC Unified Solutions took the concept of hosted IP telephony services a bit farther here at VoiceCon by introducing its Managed IP Telephony Services.

The new service, aimed at SMBs (small and midsize businesses), provides a fully managed monthly subscription service without requiring that customers buy the IP telephony equipment.

For SMBs still using TDM (time-division multiplexing)-based PBXes that want to move to IP telephony but don’t have the expertise required to implement an IP PBX, the service is ideal, according to Barry Herbert, manager of services product management at NEC, in Irving, Texas.

The service removes the risk for customers who want to exploit the cost savings and business benefits of VOIP (voice over IP), and it eliminates the requirements for managing and maintaining an IP PBX, Herbert said.

The service, available in two versions for a monthly charge, is based on NEC’s Univerge IP Telephony system and presence-enabled applications.

Click here to read more about trends and products on display at VoiceCon.

NEC network technicians remotely manage the devices, which are based at customers’ premises, and the service includes an SLA (service-level agreement) that specifies 99.5 percent availability. Financial penalties apply if the availability is not met.

The MIPT service also includes security patch installation and software updates.

NEC provides a single point of contact with carriers to eliminate finger pointing, and it provides problem resolution, performance trend analysis and real-time reporting via a secure Web portal for customers.

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The first service option, dubbed Essential Managed IP Telephony Service, provides for NEC availability and performance monitoring of the customer’s IP network along with incident management for the data network. It also includes off-site configuration backup of the IP telephony equipment and applications, change management, Web portal access, and the SLA.

The Comprehensive IP Telephony Managed Service additionally includes change management for switches and routers from NEC and Cisco Systems, trend analysis for the VOIP traffic and underlying data network, and a dedicated customer service manager assigned to the customer.

To date, only a handful of hosted IP telephony services are available from providers such as AT&T and Verizon Business, and NEC is ahead of the pack by offering a customer’s-premises-based service with management of the underlying IP network. But NEC is likely to see more competitors jump in with rival services offerings, said Zeus Kerravala, industry analyst with Yankee Group Research, in Boston.

“The VOIP industry is poised for managed VOIP services,” he said.

NEC’s service options are available now.

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