WILMINGTON,A new study says companies can save considerable money by converting their traditional telecom servoices to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), and TalkingNets seems to be catching that wave.

TalkingNets, an all-IP converged communications service provider, says it has surpassed more than $1 million in customer contracts for its so-called softswitch-based voice and high-speed data services in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

The company, based in Wilmington, has offered these converged services since April.

A new study from Analysys, a European consulting firm, says corporate enterprises can save “millions” by going to VoIP. It says converged data and voice services can reduce telecom operating expenses for enterprises with 500 or more employees by as much as 49 percent.

“VoIP technology is becoming more and mature and there are significant return on investment opportunities for large enteprises and consequenclty providers ooffering these systems,” wrote Margaret Hopkins in the report.

That study is good news for TalkingNets – and other firms such as Nortel and Cisco which have invested heavily in VoIP.

Using its softswitch-based, all-IP network, TalkingNets delivers both voice and broadband T-1 Internet access. Using open standards, such as Session Initiation Protocol within its network architecture, the company also offers a set of capabilities like its hosted Virtual PBX service.

Reducing capital costs

By delivering these services across an all-IP Cisco Powered Network and leveraging the advantages of a software-based architecture, TalkingNets says it reduces its upfront capital costs by more than 90 percent and its operating costs by more than 40 percent.

Laura Borgstede, a spokeswoman for TalkingNets, says the company has never released the names of its customers until now. Borgstede says some of TalkingNets customers in the DC area include the Washington Ballet, Acuity Systems, Advanced Surgery, The Burton Group, Corporate Network Services and Viget Labs.

While TalkingNets, founded in 1999, originally targeted more cities, Borgstede says the company has decided to focus on Washington, DC. But if more funding comes through, expansion could be in the future.

“Two years ago we planned to do a 25-city rollout plan; however, with the tightening of the capital budgets, we changed the strategy to a ‘go deep’ plan,” Borgstede says. “We are focusing the majority of our efforts on the Washington, DC, metro area. We launched the services originally in Denver, Colorado, and still support customers in that region. With an upcoming round of financing, we plan to expand our market penetration.”

Already, TalkingNets has raised $30 million from Venrock Associates, Charles River Ventures, The Hatch Group and Triad Investors Corporation. The company, which employs 40, says it expects to generate $1 million in revenue this year.

Range of products

TalkingNets adds that it has evolved its product portfolio to meet the needs of its small and medium-sized business customers. The company offers two base service alternatives that, until now, have never been formally announced.

First is TalkingNets One Service, which provides businesses with T-1 Internet access, local phone service with unlimited local calling and caller ID, bundled domestic long distance as well as managed router services…starting from $749 per month for up to eight lines of service and 2,500 minutes of long distance.

The second offering is TalkingNets One Virtual PBX Service, which adds hosted Virtual PBX features and functions to the TalkingNets One Service bundled offerings. With TalkingNets’ Virtual PBX services, small businesses get 40 phone system features, such as an automated attendant, enhanced voice mail with voice mail forward to email, conference calling and selective call handling. In addition, web-based administration enables users to independently personalize and manage their own individual features from any browser-based interface.

“By delivering a suite of services that provide the type of advanced functionality that was previously only affordable for large businesses, we are growing and attracting new customers when most competitive service providers are struggling,” John Philips, president and chief executive officer of TalkingNets, said in a statement. “Our unique softswitch-based, all-IP infrastructure redefines the economics of communications for both us and our customers, allowing us to profitably deliver broadband services to the underserved small business customer.”

TalkingNets: www.talkingnets.com