Adelphia Communications will outsource the telco-facing portions of its residential voice-over-IP strategy to Broomfield, Colo.-based Level 3 Communications, citing time-to-market as a key driver for the deal. Consumer offerings are anticipated to enter "select markets" this year, the companies said.

In the deal, Level 3 will provide a wholesale residential voice service that essentially links Adelphia's network with the public switched telephone network (PSTN). That way, Adelphia can sidestep the costs associated with "build your own" VoIP networks, said CTO Marwan Fawaz.

"This agreement ... allows us to bundle residential voice services with our existing suite of cable and Internet offerings without us incurring the costly expense of building out PSTN termination capability in LEC central offices," Fawaz said in a statement.

He added that Level 3's "carrier-quality, SIP-based" services will accelerate Adelphia's time to market.

Adelphia's moves roughly parallel those of Time Warner Cable, which last year partnered with MCI Communications and Sprint to speed its market entry for residential services. In those arrangements, Time Warner outsourced PSTN connectivity as well as number porting, e-911, directory assistance, phone book listings, and fraud control, among other features.

Level 3 executives described their wholesale VoIP offering, branded (3) VoIP Enhanced Local Service, as a way for companies which own their own switching infrastructures to launch IP-based local and long-distance communications to residential and business customers, over any broadband connection.

Components include network trunking, local number porting, operator assistance, e-911, and directory assistance - similar to Time Warner's outsourcing arrangements.

Level 3's softswitch-based network reaches roughly 93 percent of the U.S. population, the company said, and carries more than 30 billion minutes of IP-based voice and data calls per month.