Level 3 acquires VoIP start-up

* Level 3 adds voice to is services

Level 3 Communications, a Broomfield, Colo. provider of Internet backbone services, has acquired Telverse Communications, a voice over IP start-up in Sunnyvale, Calif. Level 3 will announce its plans to rebrand and expand the Telverse offerings at the Voice On the Network show in Boston later this month.

"The Telverse acquisition is clearly viewed here as a strategic investment," says Paul Lonnegren, a Level 3 spokesman. "Our CEO has made it clear that he would like to see Level 3 gain a greater presence in voice over IP. [The Telverse acquisition] is an important step."

Telverse sells IP-based voice and data services through resellers that offer managed communications services to enterprise customers. Telverse's Business Tone Service operates over traditional or broadband networks and can be accessed through regular telephones or wireless devices. The service allows a company to adopt VoIP without having to purchase a new network infrastructure.

The company's VoIP service includes local and long-distance, caller ID, hold, transfer, call waiting, forwarding and four-way conferencing. Additional offerings include voice mail, remote calling, find me/follow me, unified messaging, conferencing and call center capabilities.

Level 3 purchased Telverse in a $30 million stock transaction that closed in late July. Level 3 acquired all of Telverse's assets, including its intellectual property, technology and customers. The Telverse management team also joined Level 3.

"Level 3 got a great deal, and we got a great deal," says Marco Rubin, managing director of Monumental Venture Partners of McLean, Va., a Telverse investor. "Telverse's voice over IP technology and Level 3's infrastructure are a perfect match."

Until now, Telverse's VoIP service was available through Sentient Group, a San Francisco provider of managed voice and data services, and Javelin, a Bellevue, Wash. IP communications service provider. Several large companies including Pacific Utility Equipment Company have deployed IP-based voice services that are powered by the Telverse system.

"The voice over IP market is heating up," says Matt Collier, a co-founder of Telverse who is now a senior vice president with Level 3. "Enterprise customers are starting to view hosted IP services as a true alternative to PBX and IP PBXes."

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