Ifbyphone Ropes Its First Texas Steed, Network Communications

Today, Ifbyphone, an automated phone services provider, began a public partnership with Network Communications, a telecommunications provider in the Longview, Texas area, to provide automation applications to business customers.

The deal’s announcement was timed to coincide with the 2009 Las Vegas-based Interop conference, where Ifbyphone’s CEO and founder, Irv Shapiro, will be speaking.

This is the first carrier partnership for Ifbyphone since it announced a new service pricing model targeted at competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) and incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) in April 2009. Rather than charging by the minute and having Ifbyphone terminate calls, as the company has done, carriers can terminate their own calls and are instead charged a “rental” fee for use of the company’s intelligent application ports and infrastructure. Services provided include automated interactive voice response systems, call tracking, “Find Me” call forwarding, and others. They are delivered to carriers through Session Initiation Protocol trunking.

At the center of this strategy is the carriers’ struggles to stay competitive in a shifting environment. Traditionally, local carriers have made their money by pricing their services under those of the major providers, but with the onset of low-cost Voice over Internet Protocol telephony, that avenue has become more difficult to manage. Compounding this, many carriers’ business customers are demanding a suite of services that CLECs, and especially rural ILECs, can’t afford to provide in-house.

Ifbyphone sees this deal—just the first of more to be announced, the company says—as a confirmation of its strategy that leverages the need to survive in harsh circumstances. The low up-front capital investment makes for an irresistible option for CLECs, Shapiro suggests.

Gary Honeycutt, director of network operations for Network Communications, seems to confirm this narrative.

“[Ifbyphone] offered us a flexible pricing model that was very attractive,” he said in a statement describing why his company selected Ifbyphone.

Honeycut also cites Ifbyphone’s wide gamut of application offerings as a factor.

While the strategy won’t begin to pay of for Ifbyphone any sooner than the fourth quarter of this year, the company expects to see increased revenue. During the past 12 months, the company’s compound month-to-month rate is 16 percent, Shapiro claims. April’s growth over March was 20 percent.

“This could be a game-changer for us,” Shapiro boasts. “We’re feeling comfortable that we’re delivering real value into the mid-market, because if you can do this in a recession you got to be delivering real value to people.”

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