Wholesale Channel - Verizon to Offer Unified Communications Through uReach

Channel Partners

October 1, 2001

3 Min Read
Wholesale Channel - Verizon to Offer Unified Communications Through uReach

Posted: 10/2001

Wholesale Channel

Verizon to Offer Unified Communications Through uReach
By Josh Long

This month, two carriers will begin to offer a unified communications solution through Holmdel, N.J.-based uReach Technologies Inc. The company, which introduced a consumer service in the spring of 1999, has signed an agreement with Verizon Communications and another unnamed wireless carrier. The companies will provide unified communications in select metro regions.

The unnamed wireless carrier plans to target high-end residential consumers and the small office/home office (SOHO) segment, according to uReach.

Other carriers are expected to incorporate the messaging services during the fourth quarter or early next year, says uReach President Krishnamurty Kambhampati.

In late October, Verizon Communications will target early adopters in the carrier’s first trial in the Washington D.C. metro area, says Verizon spokeswoman Lacy Yeatts. The potential subscribers include mobile professionals, frequent business travelers, the SOHO market and residential consumers that are inclined to use advanced technologies.

The results of the trial will determine the carrier’s future plans regarding the roll out of the services in other markets, says Yeatts.

Kambhampati says uReach works with third-party vendors to provide billing and customer care. Verizon will provide customers a separate bill for the unified communications services and migrate to an integrated bill, which will include local services.

In August, uReach unveiled a solution that allows service providers to deliver value-added unified communications services. The solution combines unified messaging, advanced call management, personal information management and notification features in a framework accessible from any device, including a phone, the web and wireless Internet devices.

The core unified communications platform has been ready for some time, but carriers have been

trying to figure out how

to price out, bundle

and market the services, Kambhampati says.

In case studies, uReach has learned that customers tend to seek enhanced services such as unified communications through telephone companies rather than, say a portal such as Yahoo!.

uReach also has discovered that consumers are more interested in how a service can save time and provide other efficiencies rather than just being “cool,” Kambhampati says.

After evaluating 750,000 users, uReach found that nearly half of the subscribers earned more than $50,000 a year and most are computer technicians or executive/professionals.

In April, uReach announced $3.5 million in financing from Marquette Venture Partners and private investors. The funds were to be used to extend its messaging solutions to carriers, ILECs, ISPs and portals.

uReach can offer carriers a simple voice mail solution or comprehensive services, including conferencing and speech recognition features. The applications can be accessed through the Internet, wireless web or telephone as well as a PDA or two-way pager.

In its consumer business, uReach charges $7 a month and between seven cents and 10 cents a minute while a subscriber is tracked over the telephone networks. Through a toll-free number, subscribers can make calls, forward incoming calls, hear e-mail and voice messages and access other features.

The carriers will allow their customers to access the messaging solutions through a local wireless and wireline number among other options.

Research firm IDC agrees carriers presently are focusing on marketing strategy.

“For many service providers, 2001 is a warm-up year that will not produce large-scale, significant new customer deployments or market segment adoptions,” said Mark Winther, IDC’s group vice president of Worldwide Telecommunications, in announcing the firm’s forecast last April. “Instead the focus will be on development of a retail marketing proposition that can stimulate sufficient acquisition of unified communications services to warrant the necessary investment and resources required to sustain the service.”

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