Frontier Communications: Serving rural communities since 1935.
Part 38 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services This veteran carrier, soon to the nation's fifth largest, offers multiple VoIP plans tailored to the needs of SMBs.
Frontier Communications Corporation is not a newcomer to the telecommunications business. The firm was incorporated in 1935, and has grown to provide voice, data, video, and television services to more than 2.8 million phone and high-speed Internet subscribers in 24 states. The company is now the sixth largest Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC - def.) in the United States, serving primarily rural areas and small and medium-size towns and cities.
On May 13, 2009, the company announced an agreement to acquire Verizon Communications wireline business, totaling approximately 4.8 million access lines. When that deal is finalized, it will make Frontier the fifth largest ILEC in the nation. The combined company will operate in 27 states and have more than 7 million access lines, 8.6 million voice and broadband connections and approximately 15,000 employees. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2010, and will allow Frontier to offer broadband, new bundled services and expanded technologies to its customers.
Frontier offers three different business VoIP services targeted at the small and medium-size businesses that are typically found in their rural service areas.
The first is a Managed IP Telephony Service, which provides customers with the superior call quality of a VoIP system without the challenges of managing the technology. This system delivers all of the calling features of a traditional key or PBX system without the upfront investment or maintenance contracts.
The network-based service provides uniform services and abbreviated dialing to all enterprise locations, with no toll charges for calls between offices on the Frontier network. A web-based portal allows for management of the system in real time, including the capabilities for unified messaging that can forward voicemail as e-mail attachments, or listening to voicemail messages from a PC. The system supports a wide variety of both SIP and analog phones, including those from Cisco Systems and Linksys, plus a softphone that can be used by traveling workers to turn their computer into an office phone.
Calls are transported on the Frontier network, a QoS-enabled MPLS (def.) infrastructure that gives voice traffic the highest priority. In addition, the network features a stateful inspection firewall with deep packet inspection technology for both application-level protection and Denial of Service (DoS - def.) mitigation.
Frontiers second business VoIP offering is the Frontier Managed PBX, a platform that integrates Internet/data services with local and long distance calling in a fully managed data and voice architecture. This system is based upon the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX switch, which can integrate IP/SIP components, Internet access, wireless networks, and legacy PSTN facilities into a single system.
This service is offered as a turnkey solution with a modular, state-of-the-art communication server that supports a wide array of business communications features, plus integration with analog, IP, and PC softphones. The system includes embedded voicemail and a personal assistant automated attendant; call forwarding, which automatically transfers incoming calls; on-hold music and messages; and automatic call distribution via call routing software.
This service is available nationwide, and is targeted at firms with between 25 and 40 users. All administrative functions are handled by Frontier, which provides customers with a single toll-free number to call for any maintenance or management issues. Pricing is quoted on a per-configuration basis, and varies based upon the PBX features chosen and number of users on the system.
The third offering, called Integrated Voice, allows small and medium-size businesses to benefit from the advanced features of VoIP by using SIP trunking with their existing PBX. The SIP trunk is terminated in an Integrated Access Device (IAD), which eliminates the need for additional PBX hardware.
Standard features include Caller ID with both name and number; call admission and capacity control; dialing between multiple locations using either 3-, 4-, 5-, or 6-digit dialing; a network-based automated attendant that can provide call routing to multiple locations; plus time of day routing and a general delivery voicemail box.
Advanced features include a Web and mobile portal with conferencing; click-to-call directories; call logging and the ability to view voice messages online; hunt groups; remote phone and remote office; and find me/follow me with simultaneous ringing and sequential ringing capabilities. The Integrated Voice service is available in six selected markets: Rochester, New York; Middletown/Monroe, New York; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Burnsville/Applevalley, Minnesota; Cooksville, Tennessee; and Elk Grove, California.
Further information on the Frontier Communications solutions can be found at www.frontier.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.