The CLEC Industry was all about Arbitrage. Me-too services for less money. First with UNE-P, then Integrated T1, now with SIP Trunking. All about price. Blah!
There's this thing called Broadsoft that has something like 185 features on it.
There's this device called an IP Phone that is a mini computer that allows for buttons to be programmed to run apps.
There's App stores galore.
Then there's Google. After a couple of years simmering Grand Central, GOOG rolls out Google Voice. A cool little app with some nifty features like voicemail-to-text.
Meanwhile, we have the buzz in the Industry around UC. Like Convergence, it's a buzz word for the sake of hope that some day the players will embrace it to deliver something more than cost savings to the customer. Alas we wait.
There are over a thousand VoIP Providers of one kind or another in the US. How would anyone choose who to use? How would an agent choose who to represent?
Hardly any are public, so you can't look at financials to see if the provider has a future. Scary.
There isn't an Uptime standard or watch list that let's you know to some degree how the service is performing. (Although if you get on some of the VOIP Tech listservs you will quickly see that some companies do NOT know what the heck they are doing. Hint: Hire someone who knows how to keep voice working and stop duct taping everything!)
I have been on the Hosted PBX wagon for a while. I think that this service will explode. For business owners, it adds productivity and efficiency to their business while taking the technology out of the way. (There is a cost savings component as well).
For the service provider, Hosted PBX is a way to sell higher margin services, and a way to be different and sticky. By sticky, I mean that they customer will find it very difficult to change service from you. And with enough value-added services layered on top (a la Cbeyond), you should be increasing customer satisfaction right along with your ARPU.
Going to Market with Hosted PBX is very difficult for CLEC's. It is not TDM and cannot be sold like TDM. (No Bell-heads. You need Net-Heads).
The difficulty is in the sales process for a Hosted PBX service offering. It isn't about looking at a bill and quoting a price. If it was that easy, a fancy website could be built and the sales team replaced.
There are so many ways to create a VoIP Bundle that would appeal to a niche that I look at the current marketplace and think: Lazy! Too much Me2 without much thought to the Target.
Mercury is closing. Plymouth and Oldsmobile are closed. That means all 3 US car makers have lost a brand. Why? Probably because not one of those "brands" produced anything different. So their Brand meant nothing to the marketplace.
Do CLEC's spend money on Brand Building? What's the Differentiator? Unless you own the network for that service, you are just reselling ILEC stuff. The Brand can be built around Hosted PBX, Apps, and Customer Care.