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By Khali Henderson

EarthLink Inc. in early June announced it will offer a line-powered VoIP service on a trial basis in three markets beginning this fall. The service, powered by Covad, will enable the Atlanta-based ISP to offer voice services in apples-to-apples competition with the ILECs in those markets.

Earthlink is the first service provider to trial Covad's line-powered voice access (LPVA) service since it was announced in January. Working together, the two companies in October will offer consumers in Dallas, San Francisco/San Jose and Seattle a bundled package including phone and high-speed Internet access services. Unlike other VoIP services that require an analog telephone adapter between the telephone and the modem, Covad's LPVA enables voice and Internet using consumers' existing phones, wiring and computer equipment. As such, EarthLink's voice services will operate during a power outage, support enhanced 911 calling and offer custom calling features just like traditional phone services.

"We are very excited about this. We think it's a real winning product," says Steve Howe, Earthlink's vice president of voice services. "You get one bill from Earthlink. You don't have to deal with your phone company anymore. You get award-winning service and support and software, much faster DSL speed, and the price — we are not announcing specifics — but it will be extremely competitive with the current ILEC offering."
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