Level 3 announces residential VoIP services

March 29 2004 Santa Clara, CA-- Level 3 Communications, Inc., today announced that it is launching two residential voice over IP (VoIP) services to more than 300 of the largest markets in the U.S. by the end of 2004, with service availability beginning during the second quarter.

March 29 2004 Santa Clara, CA-- Level 3 Communications, Inc., today announced that it is launching two residential voice over IP (VoIP) services to more than 300 of the largest markets in the U.S. by the end of 2004, with service availability beginning during the second quarter.

The new services, (3)VoIP Enhanced Local service and HomeTone, will enable cable operators, Internet service providers (ISPs), enhanced service providers, inter-exchange carriers (IXCs) and others to offer IP-based local and long-distance voice service to consumers via any broadband connection to the home. Level 3 formally unveiled the services at the Spring 2004 VON Conference & Expo.

"The U.S. consumer voice market, which is valued at over $65 billion per year, is on the verge of fundamental change," said Sureel Choksi, president of Softswitch Services for Level 3. "The growth of residential broadband access, coupled with the increasing adoption of VoIP technology, is allowing a wide variety of companies to pursue the consumer voice market. We believe Level 3, with its extensive softswitch platform and local network infrastructure, is in a strong position to capitalize on this trend via these new complementary offerings.

"Our new residential VoIP offerings are designed to enable new entrants and established broadband and communications companies to cost-effectively accelerate their deployment of carrier-quality VoIP services to millions of U.S. households," said Choksi.

(3)VoIP Enhanced Local service essentially provides building blocks for "do-it-yourself" companies that want to manage their own residential telephone service. HomeTone is a complete turnkey solution for companies that prefer the ease and convenience that a "plug-and-play" service provides. HomeTone also gives providers of consumer VoIP services the ability to offer their own innovative and customized value-added features and applications to meet the specialized requirements of their end customers.

(3) VoIP Enhanced Local Service, which Level 3 expects to begin offering during the second quarter of 2004, is ideally suited for cable operators, enhanced service providers, IXCs and others who are seeking to offer residential voice services but prefer to operate their own switching infrastructure. (3)VoIP Enhanced Local service allows companies to develop voice services using Level 3 provided building blocks, including local phone numbers, interconnection with the traditional telephone network for local and long distance services, local number portability and E911 emergency services. The service provides these essential components while enabling the voice service provider to retain the flexibility to manage and control the features offered to the residential market.

"(3)VoIP Enhanced Local Service provides customers operating their own switching infrastructure the ability to deploy consumer VoIP services cost-effectively with maximum control over the end-user experience and minimal involvement in complex interconnection issues," said Jack Waters, chief technology officer and president of Voice Technologies for Level 3. "Customers are able to accelerate their time to market by leveraging Level 3's CLEC [competitive local-exchange carrier] status in 48 states, local calling capability covering more than 93% of the U.S. population, and long-distance calling service worldwide."

"We're encouraged by the level of interest we're seeing from cable operators, IXCs, and enhanced service providers," said Waters. "Level 3's IP backbone and softswitch platform allow us to offer superior cost and performance advantages with high quality of service."

Key features of (3)VoIP Enhanced Local Service include:
• Local and long distance calling including access to the traditional telephone network,
• Local phone numbers
• Operator assistance
• Directory listings and assistance
• E911 emergency services, and
• Local number portability.

HomeTone, which Level 3 expects to begin offering during the second quarter of 2004, is a turnkey, hosted VoIP alternative to traditional residential local and long distance phone service. It offers the benefits and functionality of (3)VoIP Enhanced Local service, plus calling features such as voice mail, call waiting, and three-way conferencing. In addition, HomeTone includes advanced calling features such as unified messaging, and a personal locator function that forwards the call until it reaches the designated party.

HomeTone service gives channel partners, such as ISPs, cable operators, incumbent local-exchange carriers(ILECs) and enhanced service providers the ability to offer a cost-effective, high quality local and long distance telephone service to consumers with minimal upfront costs and accelerated time to market. Channel partners can develop unique calling features and functionality with HomeTone to differentiate their voice offerings to consumers.

The key features of HomeTone comprise all of the (3)VoIP Enhanced Local service features, plus many others including:
• Voice mail,
• Call waiting,
• Three-way conferencing,
• Caller ID,
• Call forwarding,
• Enhanced features including unified messaging and personal locator, as well as
• End-user, Web-based account management.

In addition to residential VoIP services, Level 3 offers a full range of wholesale and business voice services. For more information about Level 3's portfolio of VoIP services, please stop by VON booth #615, or visit the company's Web site.

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