Orbit Canada Inc. says it latest upgrade will help it capture business customers.

The Toronto-based Internet telephony service provider Thursday announced its voice-over-Internet protocol network is fully redundant. Douglas Lloyd, Orbit vice-president, technology, says this goes a long way towards ensuring uninterrupted service and marks its entry into the commercial space.

Lloyd says Orbit is in every metropolitan area west of Montreal with about 10,000 residential customers.

“The reason we put that in was growth — volume and rush hours in the evening,” Lloyd says. “We haven’t really been offering the service to commercial accounts, but we will start doing that next week. The reason we weren’t doing the commercial was obviously the bandwidth we needed in place to do that.

“The rational behind the redundancy was a reliability factor. If we lost one of those cities from Sprint (Canada), we now have Worldcom to go back to. The routers immediately realize that if the one network’s not there it immediately routes it on the other network.”

Lloyd says the entire system has been backed up, not only in high traffic areas, doubling the bandwidth of the IP network.

Dan McLean, an analyst with Toronto-based IDC Canada, says the upgraded service should make the company more attractive to business customers, but capturing more of the residential market could prove difficult.

“I think from the residential side there’s probably a little more tolerance for service that’s of a lesser quality. If they’re looking to make it appealing to a business set of customers the quality issue because much more paramount,” McLean says.

“The trade-off initially was what you might lose in quality you’d make for in terms of cost, so IP services were initially positioned as lower cost-type services. I think it may be less of a factor now given that residential long distance services. . . (are) pretty cheap.”

Orbit also offers dial-up Internet, but don’t expect it to get into the broadband arena.

“To get into broadband you’re having to get local DSL and everything else from the telcos and they’ve got their own problems with it. Until that service is a little more stable there’s not much use of us trying to resell it,” says Lloyd.

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