Best Buy's Speakeasy Launches SMB VoIP Service

Best Buy's Speakeasy Launches SMB VoIP Service

Smaller companies who are looking to VoIP for cost savings, but lack the budget to deploy a full-fledged solution and replace existing gear are turning to voice services to reap the benefits.

And, VARs say, VoIP has evolved and become a solution their customers can get behind to not only save some cash, but also relieve the headaches of having to rip and replace their current systems.

Speakeasy, a Best Buy-owned company, has launched its Integrated Voice offering, a service the vendor said is cheaper than replacing traditional business phone lines and an alternative to a rip-and-replace upgrade.

"Businesses want the functionality and cost savings of VoIP without having to replace their PBXs," Speakeasy CEO Bruce Chatterley said, adding that Speakeasy's Integrated Voice targets the growing SMB market.

According to Chatterley, cutting over to a VoIP solution with Speakeasy requires little more than a data connection over a T-1 or high-speed DSL line. Essentially, the data connection is hooked into a Speakeasy appliance, which is then connected to the existing PBX. The solution combines voice and data services over that one connection and bandwidth is prioritized between voice and data to ensure quality.

Chatterley said the Integrated Voice solution lets customers work with their existing PBX or key system and their broadband connection, or a broadband service is available through Speakeasy.

With a stable of 6,000 partners in its channel program, including both referral partners and solution providers, Chatterley said VARs can sell Integrated Voice while also offering consulting, design, certification, install and post-installation support to generate added revenue.

"Both give solution providers the ability to extract some voice revenue they never had the opportunity to before," he said. "It gives them a product to sell and a migration path for customers. It's a compelling value proposition."

Along with being offered through channel partners, Speakeasy Integrated Voice will be distributed via Best Buy For Business customer centers in select Best Buy stores.

Seattle-based Speakeasy is offering Integrated Voice nationwide. The solution can be managed through a Web portal, easing moves, adds and changes while also giving the user a level of control.

"It allows you to grow as needed," Chatterley said.

Chatterley noted that the VoIP market is in a transition, where the PBX is being edged out by software-based solutions. Voice service allows customers to grow out of their PBX as they look to the future.

"It's so 1990s to have a PBX," he said, estimating that Speakeasy can save up to 35 percent on their phone lines. Speakeasy Integrated Voice is $19.95 per line with long distance charges of $0.029 per minute.

Speakeasy was acquired by Best Buy For Business last March for $97 million. At the time, Best Buy For Business chief David Hemler said he was committed to Speakeasy's partners, the number of which and doubled over the previous year and were expected to account for 40 percent of Speakeasy's revenue for 2007.

Stephen Savard, owner of New York-based E-Guru, a Speakeasy partner and solution provider, said the Best Buy acquisition and now the addition of Integrated Voice to Speakeasy's lineup has been a win-win. He can offer a reliable, low cost VoIP solution as an alternative to the likes of Vonage and Verizon.

"Basically, it's a turnkey system," he said. "I plug it into my system and that's it."

Savard, who sells Speakeasy service in tandem with Fonality trixbox PBXs, said he receives commissions on every sale and very rarely requires additional support. Plus, he said, offering a competitive pricing that can save clients more than half of what they currently pay for phone service gets him in the door for deals with companies with limited budgets.

"A lot of my small business customers are looking to cut costs," he said. "This has a little upfront cost, but it pays for itself in less than a year."