Startup Champions VoIP Services for All

Monday Feb 2nd 2004 by Colin C. Haley
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Besides public sector clients, Inflexion will pursue small- and medium-sized business customers such as those spending between $2,000 and $8,000 per month on telecom services.

Inflexion Communications has launched with a new approach to selling Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services to cash-strapped municipal governments and nonprofits.

The Detroit firm's Xtend IP program aims to help public sector decision-makers answer two questions: How do we spend dollars more effectively for communications services? How do we redirect those savings to create commerce or jobs?

It's equal parts consulting, technology education and community development.

In addition to savings of up to 30 percent by switching from circuit-switched to VoIP phone systems, Inflexion also promises to earmark a portion of revenue to fund local business plans. "That way, cities can be active in the (venture capital) environment," CEO Dwayne Goldsmith said during a conference call with reporters.

The startup's first Xtend IP customer is the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, a public-private group looking to keep businesses in the city and attract new ones. It is talking to about a half-dozen other potential customers.

Goldsmith, a former Ameritech executive, said Inflexion is licensed in 19 markets and will concentrate areas that are "underserved" by SBC, Verizon and other established carriers.

Besides public sector clients, Inflexion will pursue small- and medium-sized business customers such as those spending between $2,000 and $8,000 per month on telecom services. On the consumer side, Inflexion will focus on low-income consumers using prepaid calling cards. In September it bought three prepaid companies to establish a national VoIP system.

Inflexion received seed funding from Fleet Bank. It uses Broadsoft's hosted VoIP service and customer premise equipment from several vendors. Its traffic flows on private networks, so it doesn't experience delays along the public Internet.

Although there's a lot of interest in all quarters for VoIP service, there's also a lot of competition. Regional and long-distance telecoms are rolling out versions of the service, as are cable companies like Time Warner and startups like Vonage.

Goldsmith hopes that his team's experience in dealing with the regulatory process, as well as its focus on underserved areas, will give it an edge.

Adapted from internetnews.com.

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