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March 1999


Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs)

Becoming an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP) has emerged as one of the great business opportunities of the past few years. These ITSPs come in many shapes and sizes. Some focus on specific services such as fax. Some aggressively target ethnic communities looking for less expensive methods of calling the homeland. Some use prepaid calling cards to great success. A great many of these companies are involved in the business of wholesaling Internet telephony minutes. And some are doing business as "traditional" Next-Gen Telcos. ("Traditional Next-Gen" - it sounds oxymoronic, but it's true.)

While there is no simple, all-encompassing answer to the question "What is a Next-Gen telco?" many of the companies that are currently being defined as Next-Gen Telcos fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Type 1: A company that sells traditional phone calls that are transported over the Internet.
  • Type 2: A company that terminates Internet Protocol (IP) calls originated in some other part of the world.
  • Type 3: A "new carrier" that offers a package of communications services to a vertical market designed to meet that market's specific needs. (This seems to be the most profitable business model.)

These three types of Next-Gen Telcos - and what you need to do to become one - are highlighted in several sidebars located at the end of this ITSP roundup. So read on. Check out some of the companies offering these services. And if you like what you see, consider tossing your own hat into the ITSP ring. Estimates point to the fact that there is over a trillion dollars spent globally on long-distance calling. It's a big pie. With a little creativity and a little luck - coupled with some hard work - you could grab a piece of that pie for yourself.

I'd like to thank Mary Evslin, VP of Marketing & Customer Success at ITXC Corp., for her tremendous contribution to the creation of this feature. ITXC's WWeXchange Service is featured in this roundup, and the company's Web site (www.itxc.com) is a great resource for those wishing to learn more about what it takes to be an ITSP.

- Greg Galitzine


Access Power Gateway Network
Access Power, Inc.
P.O. Box 295
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-0295
904-273-2980

Access Power's telephony service works with the company's Internet Phone software for placing calls from a PC to a regular telephone. Users can make calls throughout the United States for as low as 9 cents per minute, and service to Canada will be available soon. The phone software allows users to exchange files and use video conferencing with full-color motion. It supports the H.323 protocol and also enables voice mail and the creation and editing of documents in real time.

Users without PCs can also use Access Power's service from a regular phone by dialing a local Access Power gateway server and entering their code. They may then dial out to another phone for about 7 cents per minute. Gateways are currently available in Florida, Texas, Utah, and Arizona. For more information, visit the company Web site at www.accesspower.com.

AlphaNet Telecom Global Carrier Services (GCS)
AlphaNet Telecom, Inc.
55 St. Clair Ave. W., Ste. 400
Toronto, ON Canada M4V 2Y7
416-413-4400

AlphaNet's GCS network provides wholesale, high-speed voice over data transmission for public operators, alternative carriers, resellers, aggregators, callback operators, wireless carriers, calling card providers, and other international carriers. Using a global frame relay network provided by Equant (www.equant.com), GCS transmits voice, fax, and data among more than 225 countries in North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific area. It integrates with any type of long-distance network for easy scalability, and GCS offers worldwide customer service.

The GCS network bridges calls from customers' networks to the private data network, then packetizes and transmits the voice or data over frame relay, increasing bandwidth efficiency by as much as 30 percent over IP transmissions. The company's network management center in Toronto uses the HP Open View system (www.hp.com) to detect network and component degradation in real time for rapid troubleshooting. For additional information, visit the company Web site at www.alphanet.net.

PC to Phone and Phone to Phone Service
Delta Three
430 Park Ave., 5th Fl.
New York, NY 10022
888-DELTA-30

Delta Three, currently the largest international voice-over-IP (VoIP) carrier in the world, provides users with free downloadable software for making long-distance calls to anywhere in the world through a network of 30 Points of Presence (POPs). Rates range from 10 cents per minute in the United States and Canada to more than $1 per minute for calls to other countries.

The company also features the Delta Three Virtual Calling Card for making phone to phone calls within the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Finland. Users call a toll-free number, enter their assigned PIN, and begin talking. Rates begin at 17 cents per minute for the United States and Canada. For more information, visit the Delta Three Web site at www.deltathree.com

Fnet
Fnet Corp.
733 Lakefield Road
Westlake Village, CA 91361
888-675-FNET

The Fnet telephony network is available as a wholesale resource to customers throughout the world. The network provides services for customer premise equipment (CPE) like phones and fax machines through a private network. The network nodes interface between the PSTN and the Fnet packet network, allowing maximum scalability and compression. Services are available at optimum cost compared to circuit-switched networks, and more calls can be carried over the network simultaneously, taking up less bandwidth than through circuit switches.

The network utilizes private circuits, providing a higher quality of service than some providers who use the public Internet. Fnet will terminate users' calls anywhere in the world or allow providers and resellers to terminate some or all of their traffic - provided they have a gateway that the company supports. For additional information, visit Fnet at www.fnet.net.

GRICphone Network
GRIC Communications, Inc.
1421 McCarthy Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035
408-955-1920

The GRICphone Network provides wholesale Internet telco services to more than 400 ISPs and telcos in over 120 countries, with a total subscriber base of 30 million dial-up users and millions more corporate users. GRIC provides call routing, network management, authentication/roaming, billing, settlement, and round-the-clock network monitoring for telephony, corporate remote access, and Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

The network also utilizes the H.323 standard protocol, and uses a GRIC-ready API for application to telephony hardware. GRIC boasts that it has the largest managed network of Internet-based telco services in the world, with an aggregate subscriber base of 30 million dial-up users. For additional information, visit the GRIC Web site at www.gric.com.

Inter-Tel.Net
Inter-Tel.Net
9475 Double R Blvd., Ste. #15
Reno, NV 89511
888-333-3279

Inter-Tel.Net's network enables phone-to-phone telephony calls within the continental United States for as low as 10 cents per minute from local dial-up numbers. Local access is currently available for Phoenix, AZ; San Jose, Calif.; New York City; Chicago; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and Reno, NV. Users in other areas may call a toll-free number, and are billed around 15 cents per minute for calls within the continental United States. The company offers competitive international rates to specified locations as well.

Users may also purchase prepaid minutes through Inter-Tel.Net's Web site, and are given an account number for calling out. Calls are near toll quality, and are encrypted by a proprietary GSM compression algorithm to prevent tapping. For more information, visit Inter-Tel.Net's Web site at www.inter-tel.net.

WweXchange Service
ITXC Corp.
600 College Rd. East
Princeton, NJ 08540
609-419-1500

The WweXchange Service from ITXC uses IP and the PSTN to connect Internet telephony gateway operators throughout the world with the goal of linking them to every phone number in the world. Affiliates of the service can then offer worldwide calling to their customers by using the network's facilities and terminating locations. Each call is routed over the Internet or a private data network to an ITXC gateway affiliate in the destination city.

Benefits of joining the service network include 24-hour, seven-day per week access to technicians for help with network management and hardware maintenance. Retailers receive payment for all calls routed to their gateways by ITXC, and can connect directly to other gateways without having a single billing relationship with ITXC. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.itxc.com.

Net2Phone
IDT Corporation
190 Main St.
Hackensack, NJ 07601
201-928-2882

IDT's Net2Phone service enables PC-to-phone connectivity as well as phone-to-phone calls over IP. The software is free and available for download from the company's Web site. Users can place domestic PC-to-phone calls for as little as 4.9 cents per minute, and phone-to-phone or fax-to-fax machine calls for 5 cents per minute. The service is available in 50 U.S. cities, Korea, and Spain, and users can connect through local access or toll free numbers.

The company has also released Click2Talk, which allows businesses to offer a "talk" button on their Web sites for no charge. Visitors simply click on the button and automatically dial into the company's call center through the Web. IDT offers the service free of charge to build awareness. Customers must have Net2Phone installed to use Click2Talk. For additional information, visit the company's Web site at www.net2phone.com.

WeBX
NetCall Telecom, Inc.
621 17th St., Ste. 845
Denver, CO 80293
303-292-1215

Developed for use with call centers, WeBX allows companies to place a call button on their Web pages so customers may click through and be automatically connected to a customer service representative. The call is routed through the Internet and the connection is loaded as a Web page on the customer's browser.

WeBX uses CTI for Web URL or Calling and Called Line Identification data, so call center agents can view customer data as the call is being connected. NetCall also offers NetCall800 for toll-free calling, and NetCall900 if a business wants customers to pay for a service such as legal advice or product support. For additional information, visit the company's Web site at www.netcall.co.uk.

VoiceJet/FaxJet Services
NKO, Inc.
8160 Baymeadows Way W., Ste. 220
Jacksonville, FL 32256
904-730-0050

NKO's "Jet" services provide PC, phone, and fax services over the NKOnet IP packet network. The company offers a calling card for making near toll-grade Internet phone calls through the NKOnet network using VoiceJack software - intelligent customer premise equipment (CPE) for least-cost routing. Services can also be accessed globablly through a distributed calling card platform.

The FaxJet service works similarly, routing calls over the FaxJack - a software-based customer premise device - in real time for high-quality transmission. A DataJet service is currently being developed so travelers may access all communication systems from remote locations via a local dial-in connection to NKOnet. For additional information, visit the company's Web site at www.nko.com.

Q.talk
Qwest Communications
555 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
800-899-7780

Q.talk utilizes Qwest and other long-distance carriers to provide superior quality long-distance calling within the United States. Customers sign up and receive a welcome kit with a Q.talk card. They may call in to selected local access numbers throughout the country to be connected to their destination number through the Internet. The service may not be used to call third-party billed numbers, such as 800 numbers.

State-to-state calls are about 7.5 cents per minute each day for most of the country. In California, calls are 5 cents per minute, while in Colorado they are billed at 9 cents per minute. For more information, visit Qwest's Web site at www.qhome.net.

NetWorks Voice
NetWorks Telephony Corporation
2100 East Grand Ave.
El Segundo, CA 90245-1022
310-563-3900

NetWorks Voice allows customers to connect to their private backbone through local ISPs to make Internet voice calls or send faxes over IP. The company currently has partnerships with ISPs in McLean, VA, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Novato, CA, and Dublin, Ireland. Voice calls must be placed from a voice-enabled computer or laptop, while faxes can be sent from any PC with a regular modem and a Web browser. NetWorks Voice converts documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and other files and delivers them to any destination fax at rates 50 percent to 70 percent lower than standard long-distance rates.

The company also offers the NetWorks Private Exchange, a network of buyers and sellers who communicate through the NetWorks Telephony Voicelet - a hyperlink placed on a company's Web site. The link allows customers to make direct calls to a preset number through their Web browsers, for reliable customer service. For more information, visit the company Web site at www.networkstelephony.com.

PCCall
Iscom, Inc.
One Silicon Alley Plaza
90 William St., Ste. 1202
New York, NY 10038
212-324-1100

Iscom enables customers to call virtually anywhere in the world from the United States and Canada using a multimedia-enabled PC connected to the Internet. Calls are placed through Iscom's gateway using VocalTec's Internet Phone 5.0 software (www.vocaltec.com) or Iscom's PCCall Dialer software, which is available for a free download.

Customers can make long-distance calls for as low as 4.9 cents per minute using Iscom's worldwide telephony network. The company even offers service to the Inmarsat global satellites for $12.50 per minute. Iscom plans to add additional services including prepaid calling cards, corporate fax over IP, an 800 follow-me service for unified messaging, and Internet access. For additional information, visit Iscom's Web site at www.iscom.net.

VIP Calling Network
VIP Calling
121 Middlesex Tpk.
Burlington, MA 01803
781-229-7701

VIP Calling utilizes its network of worldwide telephony gateways to provide wholesale voice over IP service to its partners. Partners are required to market and sell services in their home country, and may set their own prices and set up their own billing and customer service programs. They may also sell service to other countries, and can take advantage of VIP's 24-hour, seven-day per week Network Operations Center.

The network provides call signaling and routing through each of its POPs, located in North America, Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Gateways at each location compress voice into packets, and set up calls in conjunction with call processing servers. POPs at the terminating end reassemble the voice packets. For additional information, visit VIP's Web site at www.vipcalling.com.

.comfax
.comfax
1275 York Ave.
New York, NY, 10021-6007
888-5-COMFAX

This fax-over-IP provider offers major savings for faxing to and from virtually anywhere in the world. Users pay a monthly access fee to fax documents directly from their PCs, and pay an additional fee for each fax they send. Fees vary for broadcast or mass faxings depending on whether they are transmitted during peak or off peak time periods. Domestic rates for faxing to anywhere within the United States begin at 5 cents per page.

.comfax provides a free software download and trial account so users may test the service. Other services include three-time automatic redial for busy signals, and secure encrypted fax transmissions. Customers can also view the details of each fax sent for accounting and client billing. For more information visit .comfax at www.comfax.com.

Interline
OzEmail Interline Pty Ltd.
39 Herbert St.
St. Leonards, NSW, 2065 Australia
61-2-9433-2400

Interline provides voice over IP to major corporations and service providers that are part of its Consortium Membership. Access is provided to members "at cost," and the company offers continuous enhanced services as well as managed IP bandwidth. Other features include near toll quality voice, advanced call management and routing, and phone card support with IVR.

Interline's global network offers coverage in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Norway. The company's 24-hour, seven-day per week Global Operations and Management center offers technical support, and members also have access to strategic relationships with voice gateway manufacturers and other industry leaders. For more information, visit Interline's Web site at www.interline.aust.com.

World Interactive Network (WIN)
World Interactive Network
800 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Ste. 100
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
954-563-6230
800-608-0033

WIN offers voice, fax, and data transmission through the Internet, ATM, and frame relay. Users must have VocalTec's Internet Phone 5.0 (www.vocaltec.com) installed to utilize the service, which is available in the United States, Costa Rica, Brazil, Haiti, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Israel, China, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand. They must have a 486 or faster PC processor with Windows 3.1 or higher and at least 8 MB of RAM.

The company is seeking partners to broaden its private network of international gateways. WIN will share its integrated billing system with partners if they add additional gateways to the network and support available upgrades. For additional information, visit WIN's Web site at www.win-inc.com.

Justice Internet Telephone
Justice Technology Corporation
6700 Centinela Ave.
Culver City, CA 90230
310-526-2000

The Justice Internet Telephone is actually a network that allows businesses and ISPs to offer VoIP through switched voice service. The Justice Worldwide Network utilizes local nodes in Los Angeles, New York, Panama, and Singapore to send voice throughout the world. The company is currently deploying a series of local nodes in other locations, and operates dial up gateway centers in seven countries, including Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Chile.

The Justice network is based on Nortel Micom Phone/Fax IP hardware (www.nortel.com), and businesses must have a Nortel Micom Phone/Fax IP Gateway on their networks to utilize the service. For additional information, visit Justice's Web site at www.justicecorp.com.

PlanetTel
Planet Telecommunications, Inc.
244 Fifth Ave., #2565
New York, NY 10001
212-252-5108

PlanetTel offers low-cost voice and fax over IP services to more than 100 cities throughout the world. Customers can use their existing phones and fax machines with the service, and have the option of adding a dialer to the machine for automated calling or faxing. The company uses gateways in developing countries to send and receive phone transmissions in order to guarantee quality of service.

Fax delivery usually takes about 1 minute, and delivery is guaranteed within 10 minutes of transmission. One node may have a real-time browser window into another node, and one node can use a browser for dual currency support as well as total network management. For additional information, visit Planetel's Web site at www.planettel.com.

Global Multimedia Network
Net Communications, Inc. (NCI)
11 The Plaza
Locust Valley, NY 11560
516-656-3408

NCI offers voice and fax over IP services through prepaid calling cards or monthly subscriptions. Mass faxing, PC-to-Phone, PC-to-Fax, and complete calling card services are available. Calls may be made from any phone, PC, or fax machine, and the company offers business solutions through installation and maintenance of the Motorola IP Telephony Solutions (www.motorola.com).

The company has also developed a partnership program to expand its Global Multi Media Network. NCI will provide installation and maintenance of a turn-key system with discount pricing on all equipment and installation. The company also provides network management and monitoring as well as a SecureNet link to the network. For more information, visit NCI's Web site at www.nciglobal.com.

ISPtel
ISPtel
770 L St., Ste. 960
Sacramento CA 95814
916-810-8921

This wholesaler provides a national telephony gateway network based on the Ascend Multivoice Platform (www.ascend.com). ISPtel offers call authorization, routing, and settlement, as well as technical and marketing support to providers interested in joining its network. Gateways are located in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Boise, Portland, OR, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Stockton and Irvine, CA.

Potential partners with WAN connectivity must have a minimum of one switched PRI/BRI line at each gateway site, or a T1/E1 that is DNIS disabled. Lines must support both voice and data, and one straight-through RJ-48 connector is required at each location, as well as one phone number per port. Those with LAN connectivity should have one straight-through RJ-48 connector port for each gateway and gatekeeper, one IP address for each, and domain name servers for each gateway. Those with LANs should also provide networking equipment and upstream connectivity for minimum latency, as well as one surge protected outlet per gateway and two surge protected outlets per gatekeeper. ISPtel is a partner of JPSnet (www.jpsnet.com). For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.isptel.com.

Arbinet IT CLN
Arbinet
226 East 54th St., 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10022-4854
212-230-1200

Arbinet offers the IT CLN to service providers at wholesale, for savings on local and long-distance VoIP calls. The CLNs act as telephony gateways and bypass international account restrictive settlement agreements.

The CLN also utilizes 8:1 compression for efficient use of frame relay, private line, ATM, or Internet connections while maintaining toll quality voice. Users may connect to the CLN via telephones or PCs, and transparent access from fixed sites is available. For additional information, visit Arbinet's Web site at www.arbinet.com.

Instant NetCall
VoCall Communications Corp.
P.O. Box 29
Springfield, NJ 07081
908-301-0090

VoCall offers retail and corporate prepaid telephony phone cards in conjunction with the Internet Phone Lite software from VocalTec Communications (www.vocaltec.com). The software allows domestic customers to use their PCs to call anywhere in the United States for a flat rate of 5 cents per minute. Foreign customers can call the United States for the same rate. The company houses a redundant switch in its New Jersey headquarters, with another switch in its New York office.

Customers must purchase a phone card from VoCall or a retailer to use Instant NetCall. Then they must install the Phone Lite software, available for a free download from VocalTec's Web site, and punch in the PIN numbers located on the back of their phone card to begin the call. For additional information, visit the VoCall Web site at www.vocall.com.

Dot Com Technologies
Dot Com Technologies
606 E. Magrill
Longview, TX 75651
903-757-4455

Dot Com touts itself as the first ITSP to offer online operator services. Customers can visit two Web sites, www.internetphonecall.com or www.internetcollect.com, to place phone calls through their PCs with the assistance of a live operator. The service is provided through Dot Com's call center, combined with VocalTec's Telephony Gateway (www.vocaltec.com) and Surf & Call plug-in. Users also have the option of signing up for a prepaid account.

Customers from anywhere in the world may call the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for 9 cents per minute through the service, which utilizes gateway partnerships throughout the world for 1+ and 0+ termination. Rates vary for other locations. Callers must have Dot Com's Internet Phone Call 1.4 software, which is available for free download on their Web site. They may alternately use the VocalTec Internet Phone 5.0, which is also available for free download. For additional information, visit Dot Com's Web site at www.dotcomtech.net.


TYPE 1: The Discount Telephony Broker

Today, there are many large, established companies selling discounted calls. They sell calls that are transported via satellite, via under-ocean cables, and now over the Internet. While these companies might previously have used technologies such as callback or re-file, increasingly they are adding Internet telephony calls to their mix.

This first type of Next-Gen Telco sells discounted calling that is transported over the Internet. There is a lot to learn and a great number of companies already have a huge head start on the industry. These leading new companies have found that, to succeed, you will need:

  • A PIN database and voice response unit or other billing methods;
  • T1 connections, switches, and gateways;
  • Marketing and sales people, customer support agents, and technicians;
  • A customer base of people who are price sensitive and make a large volume of international calls;
  • A relationship with an international Internet telephony exchange carrier who will sell you dependable global termination.

Selling calls is not easy and not a sure thing - it is an extremely competitive business. However, if you know the telecommunications business, have a targeted and loyal customer base (or a way to reach one), and some financial backing for infrastructure (figure a minimum of $100,000 for hardware, software, phone lines and an Internet connection), you can start a small phone company. This is still considerably (!) less than what it cost Sprint and MCI to build their competitive circuit-switched business. Interestingly enough, some of the newest aggressive entrants into the competitive European telecom industry are the large grocery store chains, like Printemps. So, it is still possible.

As you grow your customer base, you will need funds to purchase additional gateways and begin to exchange calls between your own gateways as well as purchase time on other companies' remote gateways for termination. In this case, you will need to make an additional purchase of a gatekeeper to oversee your growing network and to communicate with the gatekeeper of the global IP exchange carrier. Be sure to work with an IP exchange carrier who allows you to build your own network and does not insist on charging you for calls that are exchanged within your own network.

Internet telephony retail calls are priced 10 percent or so below the cheapest price that your customers currently pay for a similar service. You will be purchasing routes for about 20 percent less than 2nd- or 3rd-Tier PSTN. Many companies sell prepaid calling services targeted to certain ethnic groups. They give their best prices to calls going to that particular country and then price calls to anywhere else relatively high. There are many similar creative business models. Because the margins are small, successful companies must be very adept at pricing models and buying routes. Pennies do make a difference.

- Mary Evslin


TYPE 2: The Terminator

The second type of Next-Gen Telco is a company that terminates calls that originated somewhere else. This is the easiest way to begin. If you are a company located in a place where telephone-calling prices are unnecessarily high, you can be paid well to terminate calls.

Currently, there is very little margin to be made in simply terminating calls into the U.S. or Western Europe because PSTN rates are so very low in both places. It only makes sense if you are a company contemplating terminating calls for another, more pressing reason. For example:

  • If your company can offer termination in an area where a very large number of international callers are living, you can possibly make your profit on quantity.
  • You may want to enter the Internet telephony market to improve your corporate image and stock price.
  • You may want to terminate calls because you are already keeping up servers 24 hours a day and one or two more does not add much cost relative to the potential profits.
  • You might be building IP backbone and need the traffic today regardless of price.
  • You could be selling international Internet telephony calls and might as well add termination as you already own and operate the gateways.

To terminate calls, your company will need a gateway from a vendor that is committed to interoperability and scalability. A 24-port gateway can cost about $20,000. You will need a T1 connection to the gateway and at least 256K of dedicated - not dial-up - Internet access for each T1. You must have this Internet connection from a Tier 1 ISP, one close to the backbone of the Internet. Remember, IP packets come into one side of the gateway and local PSTN calls come out the other. In addition you will need to have staff that can maintain a piece of hardware working in a real-time environment, 24 hours a day. Redundant hardware and software systems become more than a simple luxury in this environment - they become a necessity.

A terminator is paid by a wholesale Internet telephony carrier for every minute that is sent to its gateways. The wholesale Internet telephony carrier handles all of the selling of the routes so the terminator does not have to manage and pay a sales staff. The wholesale carrier also insulates the terminator from billing and collecting from hundreds of small and large gateway operators.

If the terminator works with a Tier 1 carrier, they increase their value as a member of the network and can therefore command a higher price per minute. The exchange carrier uses the redundancy in its large network and its ability to purchase PSTN to compensate for the problems one gateway operator may have. If, for example, one terminator's board goes out or the Internet is unusually busy because of, say, a political event, the exchange carrier can reroute calls to that location without losing the business that is created by the large call originators. The quality offered by each member is therefore more dependable and better by being part of a network.

- Mary Evslin


TYPE 3: The New Carrier

The third type of Next-Gen Telco is the "new carrier," which has the greatest potential.

The hope of the IP telephony industry is that the ubiquitous nature of IP format allows the "smarts" of the network to be at the end points and no longer only in the "cloud" owned by the major carriers. This is the major thrust of an idea put forth by David Isenberg, a technology analyst and strategist for telecommunications. When applied to Internet telephony, Mr. Isenberg's idea allows entrepreneurs to become, in essence, alternative communications companies.

A company that understands marketing and understands its customers could begin to offer a package of communications services tailored specifically for a niche group, be they engineers or hairdressers. These services could include targeted Web content and the ability to speak into a computer, preloaded with an address book of vendors, and converse with an informed sales person or a manufacturer. Still other services could include the ability to view a wealth of related trade information, to have one account for browsing, calling vendors, keeping a database of clients and calling them periodically with updates on services, and personal PIN numbers for clients to use to call the hairdresser when on the road. The possibilities are limited only by the marketing company's imagination.

The result of creating a package of communications services is that the world could become full of small vertical market, boutique communications firms.

The "new carrier" could earn additional income by terminating calls originated by a different carrier.

- Mary Evslin







Technology Marketing Corporation

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