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The Peer-to-Peer blog is a forum for Channel Partners readers with the goal of stimulating discussion among partners about important issues impacting their business. The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Channel Partners editors or publishers. If you are interested in submitting a blog, please contact Managing Editor Buffy Naylor, buffy.naylor@informa.com.

Peer-to-Peer Blog: Thank Goodness for VoIP!

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JR CookBy J.R. Cook, Vice President of Sales, Alternate Channels , EarthLink Business

I never thought I would say this as a long time CLEC guy, but thank goodness for VoIP! The basis for this sentiment is really based upon two daunting realities that VoIP has played a major role in changing the future.

The first was the "inevitable reality that voice was going to disappear from existence." I am here to tell you that voice has not gone anywhere, but instead has become the No. 1 application running over the Internet! While the way it is being delivered has changed, it has created a whole new opportunity to provide solutions for our customers that normally represent an enhancement to our customers’ performance, with the all important cost savings. With the option to sell as SIP with IP phone systems, or as hosted VoIP for the right customer, it has created a new revenue stream that allows agents to provide a solution for their customers in this ever changing industry.

The second area that this has impacted our industry is that it has brought value back to carriers who are providing the network to support the VoIP solution. Let’s admit it, selling an IP connection was quickly becoming a commodity and we saw the pricing and value continue to diminish. With the all important application of VOICE running across their IP network, the value of the network and the carrier that supports it has become important again. When the only application was Internet surfing, a T-1 was a T-1 ... give me the cheapest. Now the customer wants to understand who provides the best service for a competitive price. It has catapulted the need for network solutions like MPLS with COS into the forefront ... customers are not looking for just cheap IP, but a network that meets their communications solutions.

So the next time you walk by a booth of a VoIP provider at the Channel Partners show (those that have survived from last years show), tip your hat and say thanks.

J.R. Cook joined New Edge Networks in August 2009 as the first vice president with sole responsibility for the company’s agent channel. With more than 13 years of experience managing agent channel partner relationships, Cook leads the formation of a dedicated agent channel by fostering relationships and placing importance on growth from agent partnerships. Previously, Cook was vice president of premier accounts for TelePacific Communications after working as a director in its Telepartner channel. He was also key in building the agent channel for Mpower Communications, which was acquired by TelePacific in 2006. He also is a member of the 2010-11 PHONE+ /Channel Partners Conference & Expo Advisory Board .

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