• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

Cbeyond keeps it simple for SMBs

Sep 25, 20033 mins

* Service bundles ease decision-making

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Last time we began discussing the sensitive needs of smaller businesses that don’t have the resources to deal with complex networking decisions and support issues.

We mentioned that two competitive-access carriers, Cbeyond and US LEC, compete somewhat in that they offer bundled voice/data service packages to smaller organizations at attractive flat monthly fees.  This time, we’ll look at Cbeyond more closely. We’ll examine US LEC’s service model in the next newsletter.

Note that Stratecast Partners named Cbeyond the strongest integrated-access service provider for SMBs in the U.S. in its May 2003 report on the telecommunications industry. The carrier’s stated aim is to provide smaller organizations with local, long-distance and Internet services for roughly the price of what traditional local and long-distance voice services would cost.

Cbeyond keeps customer decisions pretty simple, offering three managed service package options that include local and long-distance voice and broadband Internet service. The monthly recurring fees are usually less than the cost of a U.S. T-1 circuit alone.

The three packages range from about $500 to about $1,300 per month and support 1.5M, 2M and 3M bit/sec access speeds, respectively. Cbeyond uses Multilink Point-to-Point Protocol inverse multiplexing technology to achieve the aggregated speeds across one or two T-1 circuits.

The packages include five to 24 voice lines and 1,500 to 6,000 long-distance minutes (800-number toll-free minutes can be applied). You also get a choice of either add-on voice services (voice mail, direct-inward-dial numbers, conferencing minutes and calling-card minutes) or a package of e-mail and Web hosting services.

You can add voice lines for $35 each per month and, if you go over your bucket of long-distance minutes, you pay 6 cents per minute.

For an extra $50 a month per site, you can add IP VPN services for inter-site communications. The carrier says customer traffic remains exclusively on the Cbeyond network and positions its Cisco MPLS-based VPN service as a low-cost alternative to frame relay.

Cbeyond installs and manages a Cisco 2420 integrated access device (IAD) at each customer location. The IAD merges voice traffic from the customer’s existing phone system and IP data traffic from the customer’s LAN. It then passes all traffic in IP format to Cbeyond’s network for transmission to another customer VPN site, a public switched telephone network for termination, or the public Internet.