VoIP wholesaler Broadvox is creating an online exchange where telecommunications companies can evaluate UNE-P customer bases across the country to buy, sell or trade clients.
The exchange will include an anonymous list of customer bases, and the potential buyer and seller would negotiate a private agreement after Broadvox has brought the two entities together.
With federal regulations changing, local phone companies leasing the networks controlled by BellSouth Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc., SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. are rapidly adapting their businesses to continue supporting the consumer and business markets. The rules will generally make it more expensive for local providers to continue leasing the Bell networks.
Many local phone companies are considering moving off the Bell facilities and investing in their own switching equipment, but they do not necessarily have concentrated customer bases everywhere to justify making the capital investments. Consequently, local phone companies are looking to sell certain customer bases while others are seeking to grow their base of clients in particular territories.
Broadvox’s Gerry DeHaven
“We’re finding there is interest in trading accounts,” says Gerry DeHaven, president of indirect channel sales with Broadvox. “It’s clear [UNE-P providers] with customers that are scattered all over the place have more of a challenge than those with geographic density.”
ATLANTIC-ACM analyst Aaron Nutt agrees it is now more important for UNE-P providers to own a dense customer base. “The concentration of your customer base becomes much more important,” he says.
During an interview in late February, DeHaven said 16 companies had agreed to participate in the exchange.
He says Broadvox plans to retain the exchange for a year or so to help UNE-P providers adapt to changing regulations and create opportunities for Broadvox to sell more wholesale VoIP services to these companies. “We see this as a 10- to 15-month platform to help those that are trying to figure out what to do with their scattered customer bases and, ultimately, expose Broadvox to more … opportunities,” he says.
Analyst Nutt says the exchange “could be a very valuable shortterm strategy,” but he says phone companies will eventually have to expand beyond traditional service. “They have to launch VoIP in the long run,” Nutt says.