SBC Begins Enterprise Push With Acquisition

Voice and data carrier SBC bought network consulting specialist Callisma Tuesday to market additional services to enterprise customers. The deal enhances SBC’s ability to design large networks that support a number of key corporate services such as Voice over Internet protocol , storage and security.

Financial terms of the deal between the San Antonio, Tex.-based telecom and the Palo Alto, Calif., company were not disclosed.

The four-year-old Callisma has 125 employees. Company founder and CEO Ralph Troupe will continue to lead its operations.

SBC CEO Ed Whitacre told analysts at a Smith Barney Citigroup industry conference late Tuesday that the acquisition is part of a larger strategy.

“Expect us in ’04 to make a large push in the large business market,” Whitacre said. “Nearly half the Fortune 500 is headquartered in our region and we have good relationships with them based on our local service. We currently have a very low market share in this space. So it’s a big opportunity.”

Other parts of SBC’s plan include increased marketing of VoIP service (which promises lower bills and network management costs), simplified billing and new service level agreements.

The Callisma purchase also enhances SBC’s national footprint. The phone company, which has operated primarily in the Midwest, recently won approval to offer long-distance service in all 50 states.

Whitacre also discussed other areas of SBC’s business, including digital subscriber line services. About 80 percent of SBC’s line can now support DSL — a key for selling additional premium services.

The company continues to see accelerated DSL subscriptions, adding 378,000 in the fourth quarter thanks to its bundling strategy, where customers receive discounts in exchange for buying SBC wireline and wireless phone service and Internet service.

An agreement with EchoStar will add video to the mix this year thanks to a deal with the satellite television provider, which operates the DISH network. Projects to combine order entry, service and billing operations are on track, Whitacre said.

Whitacre also said SBC will is still open to making a wireless acquisition to expand the footprint of Cingular, the wireless firm it runs with partner BellSouth .

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