Is Toll-Free Dead?

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Is Toll-Free Dead?

In a discussion with Adam Jacobs, VP at, one of the talking points was that the large IXC's - AT&T, Level3, CenturyLink and Windstream - have a vested interest in the $4 billion toll-free business, which Jacobs says is going away. I counter that with the new toll-free area code - 844 - being released, then toll-free utilization is increasing, not decreasing. By their own admission, vanity toll-free is still going strong.

Toll-free has often been used for Branding with an actually 800 number being as coveted as a 212 number in the NYC area.

Jacobs argued that will flat-rate dialing becoming universal toll-free is silly. Not sure how universal flat-rate dialing is. Cell plans are usually free mobile-to-mobile, but there is a bucket of minutes for calling landlines (including conference bridges). Also, in many rural areas, there isn't flat-rate. I just sold some landlines in Westchester NY, where the lines are metered!!! Just like in Chicago.

I would argue that toll-free and long distance toll fees are declining in usage and that new businesses don't even think about those things. However, to say they are dead is premature.

The rest of the conversation with StartMeeting was about the launch of Enterprise service, which includes screen share, customized greetings and other features layered on top of the free conference bridge (with toll dialing, not toll-free).

Jacobs talks about the cost savings of moving from any LEC bridge to StartMeeting. It's is as high as 80% savings. Agents should be climbing aboard to sell this channel friendly service, since they can dust off the "I WIll Save You $$" slogans and business cards.

Conferencing usage by corporate employees is up. StartMeeting has seen 50% growth in the last year -- now handling one billion minutes per month from 4 million active users. And Jacobs shared that many of those users are corporate employees. So is analyzing call detail records to sell their services to enterprise by sharing with the enterprise how many minutes or calls its employees are already using on their service. "Organize your users," Jacobs says. Reduce costs, add a screen sharing account for each use, manage those accounts in the admin portal, and add a custom greeting (for $2 per month). Jacobs also pointed out that most corporate conference calls are with other employees. There are sunk costs there that eliminate the need for a toll-free bridge. It is a channel friendly proposition that Telarus and Intelysis are now offering to their sub-agents.

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