Flexible Products, Lower Prices
Thursday January 22, 2015,
06:22 pm ET
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 22 /Patrick Oborn/ --
Is there a resurgence in the popularity of telecommunications providers that compares with
the late 1990's? The answer may surprise you. Since the crash of the Internet bubble,
struggling telecoms have seen Darwin in action as many companies were forced with the
choice of bankruptcy or forced consolidation. However, some companies chose the road less
traveled: innovation. By offering customers more for less, many small to medium size
business customers are finding that they can upgrade to integrated T1 service for the
same cost of five regular phone lines.
Ultimately it all comes down to basic economics. Whenever a technology can offer
more features for less money that what businesses are currently paying, it's just
a matter of time before the flood gates open up with companies wanting to adapt
the new standard. According to the Telecommunications Research Institute, headquartered
in Miami, Florida, the mass migration to dynamic integrated service offerings
is only being held back by a lack of education and/or the ability of carriers to
reach their target market. "Most people are leery of advertising and solicitations
by phone company salesman." comment Bill Bradley, analyst.
When asked about his recent decision to replace his TDM channelized T1 with a
SIP-enabled dynamic T1, Robert Probst, small business owner in San Diego, explained
that "it was really an easy decision to make. My business was growing and I couldn't
afford the cost of more voice trunks. When I learned that it was possible to
have up to 16 voice lines, and a full data T1 of high speed Internet bandwidth,
all on the same line, for under $500 - I was sold. I ended up expanding the
telecom capability of my business, improving the quality of my Internet connection,
and saved money while doing it."
According to a recent study conducted by PK Communications Telecom Brokers Inc., the average
cost of a POTS (plain old telephone service) line serviced by the Bells (AT&T, Verizon,
and Qwest) have changed very little over the 10 year span from 1996, the year the
Clinton Administration signed into law the Telecommunications Act, to 2006. The real
change in the industry came in the T-carrier class of products, where customers can
get up to 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth and 24 digital phone lines all in one package. Some
CLECs like XO, TelePacific, Nuvox, One Communications, and even Covad are now offering
rates well below the $550/month level, making the change seem like a no-brainer to
thousands of customers.
Looking in the crystal ball of the future, it is clear that new an innovated services
being offered by the few super-CLECs remaining will drive innovation higher and prices
lower. New technology is being pressed to the forefront by lower prices that the mainstream
of small businesses everywhere can comfortably afford.
CLECs are continuing to find new and loyal customers in the small business space, but
for how long will this trend continue? Will the RBOCs ever be able to give them a fight
on a level playing field? Only the FCC knows that answer to that question - all we can
do is be thankful for the past 12 years of progress and hope we never return to the
pre-1996 era of Telecommunications.