Smoothing Out Cost Spikes

GoBeam rolls out flat-rate plan for phone, net service.

If you sell pumpkins, fruitcakes, flowers or firecrackers, your telecommunications costs are sure to skyrocket once a year. To give small and midsize businesses a way to even out costs, GoBeam Inc. is introducing a flat-rate pricing plan for its managed telephone and Internet access service.

Color Spot Nurseries Inc.s telephone and Internet bills typically soar 30 percent at the height of the spring selling season, when the company earns between 60 and 70 percent of its revenue, said Steve Ellenburg, CIO at the flower wholesaler.

"We would love to be able to forecast out our expenses and not have to deal with seasonal fluctuations," Ellenburg said. "With the predictability of our business, it would nice to be able to have fixed costs."

GoBeam flat-rate communications

  • Unlimited local and domestic long-distance calling
  • High-speed Internet access
  • PBX features Find Me, Click-to-Call, Fax mail, voice and Web conferencing, IM, directory
Last summer, Color Spot, based in Fallbrook, Calif., decided to replace the hodgepodge of PBX systems deployed at its 15 locations throughout the Sun Belt with GoBeams managed service. Ellenburg, who has implemented the service at 120 workstations so far, was able to retain the companys phone numbers at its main offices.

Even without the flat-rate billing program introduced last week, the all-too-familiar billing headaches were left behind once Color Spot signed up with GoBeam, Ellenburg said. "I used to have a full-time assistant whose job it was to wrestle down the phone bill," he said. "Now I get one bill."

The managed service has proved easier not only from a billing perspective but also from a usage perspective, Ellenburg said. No longer does he have to pay technicians to come and fix hard disk problems or help with adds, moves or changes.

"The thing that surprised me the most is that some of the executives who had never touched phones before are really using the system," Ellenburg said. "Now these guys are out there setting up their own conference calls. This is not a high-tech industry; were talking about growing flowers here."

GoBeams new Unlimited Advantage plan provides full calling features, including local and long-distance telephone service as well as high-speed Internet access. The PBX features, which are Web-based, include Find Me, Click-to-Call, Visual Voice and Fax mail, integrated voice and Web conferencing, instant messaging, directory services, and call logs.

Pricing depends on the number of stations deployed. With 100 stations, pricing starts at $36.95 per month per station. GoBeams target market of between 25 and 50 stations is 49.95 per month per station.