Has It Been That Long?

DOING ANYTHING WORTHWHILE FOR 20 years is remarkable, isnt it? This year, PHONE+ will mark two decades covering the communications industry. (Yes, its been that long.) This achievement is all the more noteworthy given the instability of the newly competitive market. I use the term newly on purpose since the past 20 years spans the better part of the industrys competitive history.

Love that soft focus! The author was teased mercilessly for this Moonlighting-type photo from the late 80s. Times and hairstyles certainly have changed.

I have shared the title of editor with several other capable journalists over the years (see Page 34), but being that I hold it now, I will endeavor to represent them all in paying tribute to what has become an industry institution. Fortunately, I arrived at the publication a year after it was founded in 1987, so Ive shared much of its history and its a varied one. In our cover story on Page 34, you will learn perhaps to your surprise that PHONE+ was originally written for the then-newly competitive payphone and operator services markets. There were three magazines targeting that market then, not counting the association publications. Today, only PHONE+ survives, but not on the strength of the COCOTs or OSPs. Where PHONE+ found its calling was with the longdistance resellers and, later, the switchless long-distance resellers. This focus started to gel around 1991.

I left the publication in 1992 to work with the switchless resellers who were organizing into the Telecom Resellers Association. My involvement with the group helped forge a strong tie between the reseller community and PHONE+. Then publisher Marla Ellerman and I thought the two fledgling endeavors certainly could help each other. Our collaboration, as it turned out, was a good one.

PHONE+ found a home in the competitive long-distance market and the resale community. By 1997, the resale market was going gangbusters and even expanding into data and local services. At the same time, the agent community started to grow as all the new competitors needed sales help. PHONE+ took them under its wing as well and even started a trade show, the AgENt Conference & Expo, just for them. This year, that show celebrates an anniversary of its own 10 years. Now called the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, its the only event of its kind and attracts 2,000 to 3,000 people to its spring and fall events.

I never stopped working with PHONE+ during the years that I consulted to TRA, which became ASCENT and was merged with COMPTEL in 2003. However, I officially returned to the magazine in 1998. Thats when minutes and bandwidth trading were hot. PHONE+ hoped to embrace this emerging community, too. The industry effort didnt take off as expected, but it crystallized my thinking about the publication on two levels: 1) it was a sucker for the underdogs in the industry and 2) it was all about The Channel.

So, for the past nine years, the publishing, editorial and trade show staffs have been tasked with the single purpose of supporting The Channel.

How we do that has changed dramatically since the day I first walked into the doors of Virgo Publishing. I remember I had never used a fax machine and we had a secretary who would send them for us (if we asked nicely). I remember when only a few of the techier people at the company had MCI mail and would be able to get article submissions electronically, so we didnt have to rekey them. And, all the articles were sent to a typesetter and, literally, pasted up on boards using wax.

Today, everything is produced electronically from articles to ads until it gets to the actual press and ink meets paper. Like other businesses, publishing spends a lot of time in cyberspace much of our coverage and presence is online.

Although so many things have changed about PHONE+ from its focus to its editors to how its made, the one constant is its loyal supporters and readers. On behalf of all of us, thank you for sticking with us for the past 20 years.

group editor

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