has extended its VoIP Local Service to include four new countries in mainland Europe, enabling enterprise and carrier customers to reach a total of 25 countries worldwide and more than 500 cities across Europe. The company also announced a variety of enhancements that make the service even more useful for customers.
Global Crossing VoIP Local Service is now available in the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland and Slovakia. The service provides local origination of direct inward dialed numbers from major business centers throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, offering customers a cost-effective single IP connection to support today's advanced IP Telephony and Unified Communications applications. VoIP Local Service is part of Global Crossing's suite of SIP Trunking Services.
The expanded VoIP Local Service comes at a time when Global Crossing is experiencing increasing demand for its VoIP Services. In the first quarter of this year, 3.3 billion IP interconnected minutes traversed Global Crossing's VoIP network, representing a growth rate of 58 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008. IP Interconnected minutes represent more than 40 percent of total VoIP minutes.
To better meet this demand, the company also has enhanced its VoIP Local Service to include support for national numbers in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Spain. Enterprises in those countries can now use one national prefix that functions as an area code for the entire country, which results in lower calling rates than standard international rates. Another enhancement to VoIP Local Service is the expansion of local number portability in Europe. This convenient feature, which allows customers to retain their existing numbers, is now available in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States.
Other recent enhancements to Global Crossing's VoIP Services include a VoIP utilization statistics application available to customers via uCommand. uCommand is Global Crossing's customer-facing Web portal, providing a window into the same systems used internally to support, bill, and provision customer circuits. This enhancement gives customers a real-time view into their SIP-based capacity utilization as well as historical trends to allow for traffic management and analysis. The enhancement also provides for capacity planning and augments based on peak utilization and average concurrent call use.
Last year, Global Crossing added SIP Refer to its offering suite. SIP Refer is a signaling protocol that enables more efficient use of IP networks and allows customers to transfer their voice and video calls, without attendant intervention. In 2009, Global Crossing established its relationship with Microsoft and became a qualified SIP Trunking provider for customers deploying Microsoft OCS 2007 R2. This means that if a customer elects to use OCS for voice service, Global Crossing can provide SIP Trunking as part of the solution.
Global Crossing's global, fully meshed MPLS-based network ensures that VoIP calls are delivered with minimal latency, packet loss and jitter - a consistent and predictable call quality not possible with voice services based on public Internet transport.