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August 31, 2007

VoIP Consultants' Steve Safley on Hosted VoIP, SIP, ITEXPO

By Rich Tehrani, President and Editor-in-Chief

 (The following is taken from Rich Tehrani’s (News - Alert) VoIP blog:)

I recently had the opportunity to ask Steve Safley, president of VoIPConsultants.BIZ, about the Hosted VoIP/IP market and the direction his company is taking.
VoIPConsultants.BIZ is an agency for private label VoIP services in the United States.
To learn more about the company, read this article published on TMCnet from earlier this year.
RT: Please outline your new corporate initiatives.
SS: Our company is announcing an agent program wherein agents who work with our target clients — cable companies, ISP’s and other providers — who want private label VoIP services can use our agency to make that a reality. We think this will be “win-win” for both the agents and the clients, especially given the agents earn commissions for forwarding us new business and their client makes money by entering a very lucrative market.
RT: How is IP communications changing your company’s strategy?
SS: I would say our strategy hasn’t changed. Our agency has always been about Hosted VoIP/IP communications. Hosted solutions have changed the market we work in, however we can enable even more of our clients to enter the voice business for a fraction of the cost to build it themselves.
RT: What pains does your company solve for customers?
SS: Hosted services allow our clients to get into the (VoIP) phone business at a fraction of the costs incurred when they to build it themselves. The other pain we solve is customer churn. Having at least one value added application on the broadband pipe makes their customers stickier.
RT: How has SIP changed communications?
SS: By creating a standard such as SIP, one benefit is that it allows for more choices on hardware, as well as being better suited for VoIP.
RT: How do you think the future of the market looks?
SS: Our market is private label hosted VoIP. I’m very bullish on the market for the foreseeable future.
RT: How does the growth rate in the U.S. compare to the rest of the world?
SS: Looking at the adoption rates reported by the companies that track the industry (TMC, Gartner (News - Alert), Frost & Sullivan) the adoption curve for VoIP is entering the rapid growth phase here in the U.S. In areas of the world like China, IP telephony will be more cost effective to roll out given the legacy infrastructure is not hampering new technology like it does here. IP telephone also works over a greater assortment of transport whether it is cable, DSL or wireless.
RT: What do you think of Google (News - Alert) and Apple entering the telecom market?
SS: I don’t know a lot of what’s happening with Google and Apple because I don’t bump into them all that often. My guess is that they will have a greater impact on the residential space in the short term, and I think the jury is out beyond that. Remember that Vonage (News - Alert) started out with a big lead in subscribers as a new entrant to the market but since then has succumbed to Comcast. The primary reason for this is Vonage’s inability to bundle other value-added services with their service.
RT: How about Microsoft?
SS: Same comment as with Google and Apple.
RT: How will open source technologies change our market?
SS: By bringing to market greater innovation in terms of services offered and a faster time to market.
RT: What are your thoughts regarding hosted solutions?
SS: I am very bullish on hosted solutions, given our intense involvement in the space. Hosted solutions are quicker to deploy, less prone to disaster, and more cost effective to utilize. Traditional phone systems, including IP PBX’s (News - Alert) are generally outdated the minute you install them and saddle companies with a lot more expense to purchase and maintain over a 3–5 year time line.
RT: How will communications evolve over the next five years?
SS: I think we’ll see video coming on fast and not just downloads off the Internet, either. Commercialization of MPEG-4 will drive the need for increased bandwidth across all customer segments. Some day we’ll only need one wire to our homes, rather than one for cable, and one for the phone company. All this innovation continues to rationalize the need for “net neutrality” legislation to ensure the incumbent carriers don’t compromise the alternative solutions that ride on the broadband services today, or the ability to allow customers to choose something other than an incumbent’s service. If that becomes compromised, then we go back to 1984.
RT: What will the industry see at your booth at ITEXPO?
SS: Information on how to create private label VoIP services and information on our new agent program.
RT: Why is your booth a “Can’t Miss?”
SS: There are several reasons. Firstly, VoIP is a strong margin business today, and secondly, the adoption curve in consumer and commercial is on the upswing. Lastly, the barriers of entry for anything other than a hosted solution is too cost prohibitive. Our carriers are high quality companies in terms of the service they deliver and are easy to work with. That’s important when you’re getting into a new business.
RT: What do you want the industry to know about your company?
SS: If you want to get into the business, we can help you do it. Whether you need a lot or a little, we can help. We have several carriers from which to choose and know the strengths and weaknesses of each. It costs nothing to use our agency and most of our customers like having a neutral party helping them out.
RT: What’s next for communications?
SS: Stay tuned is all I’d say for now.


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