TalkingNets Offers Bundled Service in D.C.

Bundled voice/data service targets small companies that have outgrown dial-up or digital subscriber line service but do not want to pay for traditional T1 lines.

With a staff of 32 nurses and clerical workers who need to communicate among four offices and with doctors on the road throughout the day, Advanced Surgery in Rockville, Md., was accustomed to paying high local telephone charges plus additional fees for transmitting medical data locally. Looking for faster data speeds, but not prepared to pay for traditional T1 lines, the company decided to try a bundled voice/data service from TalkingNets Inc., a competitive local exchange carrier based in Wilmington, N.C.

Kara Vittetoe, practice administrator at Advance Surgery, estimates that her company will save between $15,000 and $20,000 in telecommunications bills over the coming year. Additionally, the new system provides her staff with features and efficiencies they didnt have before.

"It has a beautiful user screen; its small; its light; it is its own computer," Vittetoe said about the Cisco Systems Inc. IP phones purchased with the TalkingNets service. "Its the difference between driving a Hyundai and a Rolls Royce."

TalkingNets targets companies with up to 100 employees that have outgrown dial-up or digital subscriber line service but do not want to pay for traditional T1 lines in addition to their local and long distance voice services. TalkingNets on Tuesday will trumpet the launch of its services (which have been commercially available since April) for small and mid-sized business in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

"One Service" consists of dedicated T1 Internet access, managed routing, unlimited local calling, and a package of domestic long distance minutes. A package with eight local phone lines and 2500 minutes of long distance begins at $749 per month. With 16 local lines and 5000 long distance minutes, the service begins at $999 per month.

The "One Virtual PBX Service" consists of the basic services plus hosted virtual PBX, which includes Web-based administration and user management, extension dialing, inter-office dialing, auto-attendant, an array of call-forwarding options, conference calling, voice mail, call blocking and numerous other features. .

"Were now providing the services that big business have had all along to medium enterprises and small business," said Tony Surak, executive vice president of business development at TalkingNets.

Company officials are quick to distinguish the companys architecture from that of many competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) that failed during the last two years.

TalkingNets maintains a media gateway, servers and edge routers at a carrier-neutral collation facility, and connects them to routers at the customers site via dedicated T1 lines leased from Verizon Communications Inc. Through its softswitch architecture, TalkingNets is able to deploy at a relatively low capital outlay.

"Every Fortune 1000 company will be making some decision on a phone system in the next two years," Surak said. "We will be expanding up and down the east coast."