VoIP For The SMB

By Colin C. Haley

August 03, 2005

Vonage pilots a service through VARs to further encroach on incumbent telecom territory.

Vonage is beta-testing a new Voice over IP service for small and medium businesses (SMBs), a company executive told internetnews.com.

"There's a huge opportunity here," Mark Lyons, Vongae vice president of value added reseller (VAR) sales, said. "A huge chunk of the market doesn't have scale to receive discounts from large telcos."

Vonage Business Plus, which is aimed at companies with 10 to 100 employees, is in trials with about 75 businesses. It will be formally rolled out in the fourth quarter this year in the United States and likely a quarter later in Canada.

The service will be sold and installed through value added resellers (VARs), such as independent broadband operators, telephony systems vendors and systems integrators. It will compete against business packages from Verizon and SBC .

In recent months, Vonage has recruited 80 VARs for the program, including wireless broadband provider .

"We've grown to a pretty good size for the pilot," Lyons said. "Eighty to 100 [resellers] is fine for 2005."

Besides resellers, Vonage has lined up network equipment that is more robust than its consumer gear. Vonage will offer voice gateways from Cisco , Quintum and AudioCodes and IP PBX gear from Epygi and Allworx, Lyons said.

Pricing for the equipment and the service itself are not yet set, although savings over the Baby Bells will be a major selling point, Lyons said.

Business Plus features will mirror Vonage's consumer offerings, including flat-rate calling and low international rates, Lyons said.

The strategy for signing up more business customers was drafted last year. Currently, only about 20 percent of the Edison, N.J., company's 600,000 subscribers are businesses, Vonage spokesman Mitchell Slepian said.



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