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Internet Telephony: New Opportunities For Service Providers

For nearly two decades, dramatic changes in the $600 billion worldwide telecommunications industry have provided many significant opportunities for forward-thinking service providers and entrepreneurs. Although the technologies have changed, a pattern has emerged in the industry: deregulation and/or technical advancements create a new market, a small group of carriers enters the market by building network facilities, and later the barriers to market entry for other service providers are substantially reduced through service resale programs. For Internet telephony, service resale programs are now opening up a wave of new opportunities for service providers.

Service resale programs involve facilities-based carriers offering network access to other service providers to activate accounts and conduct billing at the retail level. Service providers become resellers to add revenue through new products, increase retention by having more "hooks" into their customers, and to differentiate themselves by providing an expanded product line.

History Repeats Itself
The first wave of opportunities in telecommunications began after the deregulation of long-distance services in the mid-1980s. By the early 1990s, thousands of "switchless" long-distance service providers were born from the resale offerings of companies such as Sprint and WilTel. Although hundreds of those service providers are still thriving today, many more have been sold to larger carriers, making millionaires of many of the entrepreneurs and investors who were early participants in the long-distance resale industry.

The next wave of opportunities came with the rapid expansion of wireless networks in the early 1990s. Resale offerings by facilities-based carriers such as AirTouch and PageMart were introduced shortly after the networks were created, and hundreds of service providers took advantage of the programs and offered wireless services under their own brand name. As with long distance resale, wireless resale programs generated tremendous gains for those who entered the market when the time was right.

Internet telephony services represent a new wave of resale opportunities in telecommunications. In this wave, resale programs are being rolled out in "Internet time" -- without a delay between the launch of services by facilities-based carriers and the availability of resale programs. The recent availability of such programs offers the ability to profit substantially from early entry into today's emerging Internet telephony industry.

Where Are The Opportunities?
The most successful Internet telephony services involve more than low cost long-distance minutes. Services that generate substantial revenue are those that leverage the strengths of the Internet yet meet a current communications challenge. Two such Internet telephony applications that have been growing exponentially in use are unified messaging and Internet fax.

Unified Messaging
According to a recent poll from Gallup, the average worker in the United States receives a total of 71 messages daily. Handling messages has become a job unto itself for many business professionals, requiring frequent monitoring of disparate systems. Message management is even more cumbersome for those who travel, telecommute, or do not have access to the messaging infrastructure of a larger office environment.

Unified messaging services eliminate the messaging chaos by bringing e-mail, voice, fax, and pager messages together in a single unified inbox. While unified messaging services features vary, the majority offer access to messages through a telephone, a fax machine, or an Internet-connected computer, whichever is most convenient to the customer at the time. How customers adopt unified messaging services is also flexible. Customers can choose to distribute their unified messaging voice/fax/pager number and e-mail address to their contacts, or they can set up call forwarding and e-mail forwarding from existing phone numbers/e-mail addresses to deliver all their messages to their unified inbox.

Revenue from unified messaging services worldwide is projected by the Pelorus Group to grow from $69 million in 1998 to $2.3 billion in 2002. The market is being fueled by several trends. Increases in telecommuting, business travel, and use of wireless devices have created a need for anytime/anywhere access to messages. In addition, the growth of small and home-based businesses has created demand for an all-in-one solution that displaces separate message services or premise-based messaging equipment. Lastly, the rapid growth in the use of the Internet has created a new venue for convenient message access.

To generate the highest subscription rate, service providers must be familiar with the many applications of unified messaging and articulate those that will most benefit their customers. For example, a wireless service provider that launches unified messaging should promote anytime/anywhere message access, while an Internet service provider should promote the convenience of Web retrieval for all message types.

Internet Fax
"The agenda for the meeting sounds fine, could you please fax it to me." In offices around the world, this simple request is succeeded by a common chain of events: a document is sent from a computer to a printer, the document is retrieved, a cover page is written, the sender walks to the fax machine and sends the fax, then waits as the fax goes through. The majority of this manual process can be eliminated using an Internet fax service to send faxes directly from a computer. According to noted fax industry analyst Peter Davidson of Davidson Consulting, computer-based faxing takes an average of six minutes less than traditional manual faxing, eliminating three quarters of the time spent sending a fax.

Internet fax also delivers clearer images than fax machines, creates an electronic archive of every fax sent, lowers a customer's long-distance fax expenses and eliminates the need for dedicated fax lines, fax machines, and fax supplies. The combined benefits of Internet fax are creating a market that is projected by International Data Corporation to grow worldwide to $2 billion by 2002.

The most effective method of selling Internet fax is to demonstrate the differences between it and traditional manual faxing, the key difference being increased productivity. For example, a company with 30 employees sending 5 faxes each business day will gain 3,900 hours in added productivity over a 52-week business year. Factoring in a labor expense rate of $15 per hour, the company will save $58,500 in labor costs alone by implementing Internet fax. Savings on fax rates, dedicated fax lines, fax machines, and supplies also add significant cost savings for Internet fax customers.

The Time is Now
Internet telephony services revenue is growing faster than any other segment of telecommunications, moving rapidly toward a multibillion dollar marketplace. Like past opportunities, Internet telephony resale programs offer a chance to grow new or existing businesses with services that create wealth while providing valuable solutions to customers.

Charles Coats is the director of marketing for Concord Technologies, a provider of unified messaging and Internet fax services. The company offers both private-label branded resale and distributors programs. For more information, visit their Web site at



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2006-03-28 00:00:00: Снижена комиссия на обмен...

Комиссия за обмен WMZ на WMU составляет 1.5%. Комиссия за обмен WMR на WMU составляет 2%.

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