Cbeyond Sees to EV-DO

By Eric Griffith

April 20, 2007

The small business communications provider now offers mobile data services.

Cbeyond has one customer focus for its IP-based communications: small to medium businesses, those with 5 to 249 employees, and more often than not the "entrepreneurial class" size of 5 to 30. While the company has long offered wireless services with mobile phones and smartphones, all accompanying its T-1 and VoIP-based landlines, it wasn't until now that it offered mobile data.

The company's BeyondMobile Laptop Access service piggybacks on the 3G EV-DO networks of others -- they won't say whether it's Verizon Wireless or Sprint Nextel's network, or a mix. By offering the Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 PC Card to customers, they'll support the snappier speeds found with EV-DO Rev. A . Peak speed on the network is 3.1 Megabits per second (Mbps) down and 1.8 Mbps up, though most customers are seeing 1.5 Mbps down and 800 Kilobits per second up.

The service actually launched about 45 days ago, but the company announced it this week. "It's new for us but giving us a lot of traction already," says Brent Cobb, vice president and general manager of product management and mobile at Cbeyond

Currently, the company's IP services are limited to seven markets (Cbeyond's hometown of Atlanta, as well as Dallas, Denver, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego), but naturally, the wireless EV-DO service will be nationwide, albeit limited to the markets where EV-DO is available. In other areas, the service will probably dummy back to slower speeds over the CDMA network.

Cbeyond skipped what might seem an intermediary step to EV-DO: providing Wi-Fi hotspot access to its 27,000 customers. But Cobb says that's coming. "We've been evaluating and will someday launch a partnership with a large provider to give Wi-Fi access to our customers with a single software solution," he says. "Someday, we'll make them complementary." For now, customers use the Sierra Wireless software that comes with the AirCard package.

The cost of the service is $60 a month per card, but that's in addition to the fees paid for basic Cbeyond service -- specifically, $495 a month for a T-1 and six VoIP phone lines, along with services like e-mail, Web hosting and fax-to-e-mail.



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