As early as this week, regulators plan to issue the latest in a series of rewritten rules governing the obligations of the Regional Bell Operating Companies toward their competitors. The stakes are high in the perennial war between the RBOCs and rival carriers, but if regulators dont get the new rules right, it could be small-business users who have the most to lose.
Small businesses, which dont have the leverage to negotiate contracts with carriers the way large businesses can, increasingly have turned to CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) for service. In cities, CLECs serve nearly one-third of the small-business market.
IQ Wired Inc., a small technology consultancy in Denver, switched to Cbeyond Communications LLC about three years ago to take advantage of the CLECs affordable bundle of voice and high-speed data services, said Tatiana Finkelsteyn, president of IQ Wired.
"Cbeyond has allowed us to get a T-1, and we could never afford one before," Finkelsteyn said. "It sort of moved us from a small-business telco environment to what large businesses have."
IQ Wired is saving about $400 per month over the a la carte services that it otherwise would have purchased from the ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier), Qwest Communications International Inc., Finkelsteyn said.
"For a larger company, Qwest is great," Finkelsteyn said, adding that her business is too small to support a staff dedicated to telecommunications management. Cbeyond allows users to manage their services online, including bill payment, call forwarding, voice mail, and phone moves and changes.
"Probably the biggest reason I switched is because it is less cumbersome to do things. Anything I want to do, I can do online," Finkelsteyn said. "I dont even have a filing cabinet for Cbeyond bills."