No Boundaries: UNSi Breaks Through Carrier, Growth Barriers


No Boundaries: UNSi Breaks Through Carrier, Growth Barriers

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  May 20, 2013

Chances are good that you’ve never heard of UNSi. The company traditionally has been the kind of organization that just blended into the woodwork. However, UNSi is now breaking out in a big way – with an aggressive growth strategy, relatively new leadership, and a plan to reach $62 million in revenues by 2015.

All this is seems a fitting strategy for a company whose tagline is No Boundaries.

UNSi, a next generation carrier and provider of Internet and managed services that delivers custom connectivity solutions for multi-location business clients using both its own facilities and the network assets of a variety of local access carriers has moved, and intends to continuously and aggressively move, the needle upward in a big way in 2013 via planned acquisitions, investments in network expansions and strengthening of in-house technical operations.

“The company’s blueprint for growth incorporates an organic growth plan coupled with a merger and acquisition strategy,” Francis John told INTERNET TELEPHONY. “The company’s total revenues grew by $8.1 million, or 41 percent, to $27.7 million in 2012. Our organic growth plan projects revenues at $34 million in 2013 and $62 million by 2015.”

John, who joined privately-owned UNSi as president and CEO two years ago, was always an active investor in UNSi and served on the company’s board of directors since 2006, was tapped to take the company to the next level through both organic growth and acquisition.

Growing Up

With executive management experience as chairman, CEO and president of public and private companies in the energy, health care, hospitality and telecommunications verticals, John has led more than 100 acquisitions, and raised more than $3 billion in debt and equity. While chairman and CEO of Key Energy Services, he reorganized and grew the small West Texas oilfield services company from $15 million to $1 billion in revenues. He’s also served as executive vice president and CFO for pharmaceutical and dialysis company Delmed, a publicly traded company for which he staged a turnaround.

John’s first move on the acquisitions front while at UNSi involved the purchase of IPNetZone, a next generation MPLS network provider which helped evolve UNSi as a major player in the managed network services space gaining their own advanced backbone network. At the time of the deal, IPNetZone had just five points of presence, but UNSi has since expanded the size, service capability and number of those POPs.


“Last year we established our own 18-node MPLS and carrier Ethernet network with the acquisition of IPNetZone, which allowed us to enhance UNSi’s position serving both the enterprise and carrier markets,” John told INTERNET TELEPHONY. “The acquisition strengthened our core services of providing intelligent connectivity solutions for companies with multiple locations, monitoring and securing critical network infrastructures and consolidating telecom billing platforms.


“Over the past year we have invested in expanding our network in the Midwest and Southwest regions and adding several new NNI’s with various wholesale carriers throughout the United States,” John added. “UNSi is becoming a leading single-source vendor for telecom services because of our extensive reach and the ability to provide premiere connectivity solutions anywhere in the U.S. to companies with multiple locations on one bill, with one contact and one single set of SLA’s for both enterprises and channel partners.”

Why UNSi

UNSi offers custom managed services to layer on top of transport services. Its product portfolio consists of Carrier Ethernet, Dedicated Internet Access and MPLS services. It provides these services out of 18 carrier-neutral facilities at which UNSi has NNIs to numerous carriers and application service providers. As a result, business customers are able to get back to the UNSi network, and from there access their cloud services, affordably and efficiently, explained Allan Schwartz (News - Alert), UNSi’s senior vice president of strategic planning and business development.

He added that UNSi can provide connectivity anywhere in the U.S. because it has relationships with more than 2,000 providers; its network doesn’t conform to the LATA-based boundaries to which incumbent and competitive local exchange carriers have traditionally been confined; and it can support customers using any kind of access method. The fact that the UNSi network model is based on metro Ethernet, he added, makes its solutions more cost-effective and scalable for customers, as businesses can “slice and dice” such connections for a variety of services as their needs require.

Cablecos, CLECs and ILECs “have their network footprint and then their network footprint ends somewhere, and then they have to go across the street. So they are really focused on selling within their existing footprints,” Schwartz said.

“We’re not encumbered by the fiber in the ground,” he added. “With our tagline of No Boundaries, you never have red zones. It’s always green with us.”

UNSi’s services are backed up by geographically dispersed network operations centers with stringent disaster recovery and redundancy standards, 18 regional POPs, more than 150 NNIs, and a large broadband aggregation database.

Because UNSi typically doesn’t own the transport facilities over which customer traffic flows, it also offers traffic management and monitoring as a value-added service to its customers. This is a broad offering that brings together under one pane of glass the multiple underlying service providers a customer is using, and looks at everything from the circuit, to the services running over that connection, to the servers and disk space, BGCP status, amount of bandwidth used and by what users, and more.

More than 250,000 buildings around the country are now within reach of UNSi solutions. The company has been particularly successful in the health care and retail verticals.

As an example of this success in the health care space, UNSi has outfitted a hospital corporation with what it describes as complex networking, broadband and hosted monitoring services in a multi-state area.

“Connecting over 150 hospitals, imaging centers, doctor’s offices and data centers together in a seamless network allows the hospital corporation to run medical applications and transmit MRIs and electronic medical records directly to other doctors and specialists in a secure and un-interrupted networking environment,” explained Paula Como Kauth, UNSi’s director of marketing. “Previously this organization had many different broadband providers nationwide, and needed a company to manage its network and provide one network on one bill. Leveraging UNSi’s relationships with over 2,000 service providers, UNSi made all the arrangements with each different provider (more than 50 providers) to consolidate services under one umbrella, one bill and take the headache away from its finance and IT departments, all the while locating additional savings and proposing ways to leverage newer technology to increase efficiency.”

UNSi also provides a customer solution that includes DIA, Ethernet over copper, managed co-location, managed firewall, managed LAN, and managed router to the fourth most widely circulated daily newspaper in the United States.

“This organization came to UNSi to provide a highly secure and reliable networking solution with IP redundancy ensuring their company website and network, which supports hundreds of concurrent streaming content sessions daily, is always up and running with no interruptions,” explained Como Kauth. “In October of 2012 during Superstorm Sandy, UNSi worked 24x7 ensuring its network was uninterrupted, which was due to the highly reliable redundancy solutions in place already and the network monitoring and management services provided to them by UNSi. They were one of very few businesses on the East Coast that did not lose connectivity of their network and site.”

Reaching Out

To date, UNSi has relied primarily on an ecosystem of switchless and hosted application providers to bring its services to market. In many cases, those are wholesale relationships, which explains why UNSi has not been particularly high profile up until this point, said Schwartz.

Now UNSi is embracing the channel.

Last year the company launched its channel program, which interfaces with independent agents and master agents. As of late March, UNSi had 35 channel partners, including three master agents, and it’s continuing to recruit channel partners. Master agent ADVODA Communications came aboard earlier this year, bringing with it a multi-location customer that is now leveraging UNSi for MPLS with cable modem backup infrastructure connecting into multiple data centers for redundancy. For this customer, UNSi has brought together nine underlying physical network providers.

Schwartz said UNSi’s new channel-based go-to-market strategy more closely aligns with its strong engineering talent. UNSi has always considered itself a network engineering organization that helps customers create the networks they require, explained Schwartz, who said that the earlier agents can bring UNSi into the discussion, the more creative solutions they can put together for business customers.

M&A Expansion

As UNSi is looking to grow by acquisition and mergers, they are targeting companies that will help expand their network and go-to-market reach in key metro areas in addition to adding complimentary technologies to their existing service portfolio. Their niche is providing business class Internet and network services to companies with multiple locations nationwide. That’s what they do best and why large franchise and health care organizations are key customers for UNSi. They streamline their connectivity services for companies across all of their company sites, aggregating both broadband and intelligent high speed, highly secure connectivity services like MPLS and VPLS. Companies trust them, their networks and skilled professionals. Companies don’t have to worry about developing relationships with multiple carriers in each region they need connectivity in. They leverage UNSi’s aggregation expertise and network reach to help them securely connect their employees, partners and office locations nationwide and just receive one monthly invoice vs. multiple vendor invoices.

Como Kauth added that the customer remains the center of the UNSi universe as the company continues to grow. In fact, she said, UNSi has launched an internal campaign to exceed customer expectations in every way.

Added John: “We are continually pursuing future technologies and acquisition targets to support our growth strategy, remaining ahead of the competition to exceed future client and market demands.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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