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Agency Channel: Bundled Services: No Sign of Dwindling in 2001

January 1, 2001

3 Min Read
Agency Channel: Bundled Services: No Sign of Dwindling in 2001

By Tara Seals

Posted: 01/2001

Bundled Services: No Sign of Dwindling in
2001
By Tara Seals

Providers such as Access One Inc. (www.accessoneinc.com),
TheAgentsNetwork (www.agents-network.com),
AT&T Corp. (www.att.com) and Igaea Inc. (www.igaea.com)
say bundled options will figure prominently in their agent offerings this year.

The packages help agents cross-sell, up-sell and minimize churn.

Tier 1s and startups embrace the "simplify-the-sale" strategy.
According to Karen O’Connor, field marketing manager for the AT&T
Independent Sales Channel, AT&T Business Network bundles were created to
make the sale and management of AT&T services easier. The offer includes
Internet access, local, long distance and wireless products, and the carrier
will add "data and IP services" later this year.

Meanwhile, newcomer Igaea, which launched in August 2000, has a three-pronged
multimedia product strategy: voice, data and video, says Carl Churchill, company
vice president of agent sales. During the first and second quarters, it will
move aggressively forward with data products, and in quarter three it will roll
out video services to agents. All products will be bundled for simple up-sell
and cross-sell, Churchill says.

Access One offers bundled private line, frame relay, local, long distance,
DSL and dedicated Internet. In the first quarter of 2001, Access One will add
UNE platform (UNE-P) offerings in California and the Ameritech Corp. (www.ameritech.com)
regions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. According to Brian
Barkley, Access One’s president, products such as the integrated T1 and multiple
exchange are central to agents’ success.

"Value-added services [VAS] have played a very important part to our
great success here at Access One in Chicago and Los Angeles," he says.
"We’ve practiced selling VAS for many years, and it has really paid off.
Far and away, the most valued benefit to selling such services is in customer
retention.

"Yes, an agent makes money each month by selling the particular VAS, but
keeping the customer ‘on system’ for as long as possible is real value."

The integrated T1 offering allocates the 24 channels for voice and data
according to the customer’s preference.

"The voice can be used for inbound/ outbound or any combination
thereof," says Lance Honea, Access One’s CEO. "The data can be used
for dedicated Internet, frame relay or VPN solutions. The benefit to the
customer is a much more efficient allocation of resources."

The multiple exchange solution allows a customer to spread multiple phone
numbers, or "virtual offices," across the same LATA. All calls to
those numbers will forward to a T1 at the customer’s main location. This allows
the customer to establish a local presence without actually opening an office or
physically installing lines.

"In this competitive industry, if agents are not selling VAS, they’re
jeopardizing their efforts," Barkley says. "My definition of a VAS is
selling anything to an end user in addition to their primary interest product.
If a prospective end user’s primary interest is frame relay, Access One and our
agents will first aggressively sell our competitive frame relay product and then
aggressively sell voice and Internet to the prospect. Selling VAS is part of our
agent training program."

The trend also drives future offerings from TheAgentsNetwork, according to
CEO Brad Miehl. It will roll out packages during the second quarter that
encompass long distance, collocation, web hosting and e-commerce in an ASP
model. Tentatively titled "Advantage" solutions, the bundles’
e-business options will include turnkey websites, shopping cart services and
custom sites designed from the ground up.

"We are finding that there is more to providing end-user solutions than
just pure telecom products," Miehl says. "ASP services both vertically
and horizontally focused will flood the market soon."

According to Miehl, Advantage will be a multivendor affair, but users will
manage all services and report from a single web-based interface.

Miehl adds, "A single point of contact is also key to the success of
this model, and in the field, this is managed by our value-added agents."

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