Lee Crowe is no stranger to hosted telephony services; he is a pioneer of the market having deployed a number of hosted platforms, including the first Broadsoft platform in Europe. Now, as Managing Director of Arbitel, Crowe and his management team are launching what he describes as the largest deployment of a Broadsoft platform in the UK.
Arbitel is selling wholesale hosted telephony. How do you differentiate yourselves in an established market?
Lee Crowe (LC): The Arbitel Unified Communications Broadsoft platform is the largest deployed in the UK. Typically service providers had in the past bought their switch plus, say, 1,000 licenses whereas we have launched our service with an available licensed capacity today in excess of 6 figures. The reason for this is that we aim to scale our operations rapidly from the outset with our partners. For a competitor to do this they would have to fund the cash flow required for just 20,000 licenses.
Up to this point we have not even done a soft launch for our product offering yet such has been the interest in what we are doing that Arbitel has already signed up many channel partners.
What is it they like?
LC: Well it’s a number of factors. They know we have the pedigree and experience of Broadsoft based hosted telephony, they just love our price points and service wrap on the deliverables.
All we did was start talking to people we knew. They could see that we had dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s with our proposition and recognised that we were going to give them an experience second to none in this market.
Hosted voice is becoming more of a commodity these days how can you help resellers add value?
LC: From the outset we gave these partners access to our platform via our portal – Arbitel One. This is an in-house developed fully automated provisioning system that is truly 95% zero touch. With the services and tools we are supplying resellers they can manage and monitor their own estates and become self- supporting. This means that Arbitel do not need an army of support engineers putting services on as the reseller is in control of their own destiny.
These service features include a service assurance tool that has the ability to monitor every single end point device the reseller has deployed in real time and with recorded historical data also preserved and available. This means that it is very easy to identify where any issue arises – network, connectivity, within the estate, and solve that problem swiftly. This ends all the finger pointing at different suppliers that can occur and leave the customer so frustrated.
As a white label reseller service we also facilitate partners determining their own pricing strategies. The hosted telephony market has traditionally been a difficult market in which to provide bundles to end users however, Arbitel has developed a unique, events based billing platform with Broadsoft which provides the flexibility for setting tariffs and providing bundles.
For example, we can bundle minutes with services. All we need is a start date and end date. What this means is that we do not need an army of administrators managing the billing.
All of this adds up to our capability of adding 50% on to our resellers bottom lines as our channel model is so much more compact and efficient.
What I mean by this is that some Broadsoft platform suppliers sell to tier 1 and 2 carriers/ISPs who in turn sell to their channel resellers who provide to dealers and ultimately on to the end user. There are just too many margins being taken here to feed all the mouths profitably. Arbitel can do that model – but much more competitively.
What is you view of the market right now?
LC: Arbitel has made a significant investment to this point; the Broadsoft switch is a starting point on which we have added state of the art Acme Packet session border controllers and our Arbitel One almost zero touch provisioning portal.
We aim to be disruptive in a market which in our view is still not fully established with channel partners who realise they need to go down the hosted route at some point.
There is a massive increase in interest from ISPs who need to take on a voice solution as to date they have just been supplying pipes for data and losing business to SPs who offer both down that same pipe. ISPs have recognised that by selling both voice and data services their customers will become more sticky.
However, in general, ISPs are neither that familiar nor confident in handling voice applications. With Arbitel positioning voice as an overlay service in an ISP’s network they can run the applications as a managed service should they wish. We can even put an instance of our Broadsoft platform into the ISP’s own network so that they can operate a virtualised Broadsoft platform of their own.
How is reseller recruitment going? What from Arbitel is turning them on?
LC: Without launching we have already signed up a number of significant partners including both ISPs and Voice Resellers. We are looking to further sign up tier 1 and tier 2 carriers, as we have the immediate capacity to help them scale quickly, as well as further ISP and system integrators.
For those resellers that have not yet fully embraced their move to hosted telephony we have appointed a distributor to support our channel growth.
We already have a strong sales pipeline of companies from 200 to 3,500 user seats. The opportunities are out there – the CAPEX based CPE PBX market has stalled and the last time any significant upgrade to the base occurred was in 1999 for the millennium bug – Y2K. As technology has moved on at such a pace that base is getting tired.
Our whole infrastructure platform is all best in class, resilient over 2 data-centres runs the latest software release`s and our policy, like Broadsoft’s policy of one major upgrade a year, will be to mirror that upgrade once tried tested and evaluated.
Today Arbitel has on day one, a full suite of Unified Communications capabilities including for example hosted telephony, SIP trunks, call recording, call centre applications as well as FMC for the reseller to sell to their customers base so come and talk to us.