RealTime IT News

Broadview: From 'Me Too' to 'Me First'

Broadview Networks survived the telecom shakeout of 2002. It fought to profitability in 2003. And in 2004, it's looking to accelerate growth by offering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service for small and medium businesses (SMBs).

The New York competitive local exchange carrier on Monday announced its entry into the second stage of VoIP trials with SMB customers (those with between four and 50 lines).

Broadview is encouraged by the response so far and likes its chances against larger carriers who are about to embark on large-scale VoIP deployments and startups that are already in the market.

"CLECS have always been sort of 'me too' companies because call waiting, T1 and other services were always around," CEO Vern Kennedy, told internetnews.com. "The idea was to offer them (cheaper). But what we're talking about with VoIP is the CLECS are first to market with something you can't get somewhere else."

Broadview customers will be able to add, subtract or change features of the telephone systems through a Web portal. Conference calls can set up by clicking on the names in the e-mail directory and have all calls connected automatically. The service will also support enhanced 911 and other safety functions.

In addition to ease of use, Broadview said its quality of service is strong because of acquisitions. For example, it acquired the assets of Mass.-based Network Plus to significantly enhance its facilities and its long-haul fiber network.

The privately held company, which primarily serves the Northeast market, believes this will be its greatest advantage over Vonage and other VoIP specialists which send traffic over the Internet.

"Our voice traffic doesn't touch the Internet," CTO Ken Shulman said.

Broadview's trials will run over the next six months and involve about 20 companies. The company will look at how customers use the service and various features as a guide to market it to a wider audience later this year.

Teresa Mastrangelo, a broadband industry analyst with RHK, says the timing of Broadview's initiative is good, especially given Verizon's VoIP moves last week.

"(Broadview) will continue to be able to leverage their focus on the SMB market, whereas Verizon will continue to focus on larger enterprises," Mastrangelo said. "From a feature, service (and) application (standpoint), they should be able to offer a competitive package."

As far as providers like Vonage are concerned, Mastrangelo said Broadview's ability to offer service level agreements or enhanced features like unified messaging could give it an edge.