Cbeyond, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is a provider of information technology and communications services that focuses on a single market – small businesses throughout the United States – presently claiming over 52,000 customers within that market segment.
This singular focus has earned the firm some significant industry awards, being recently recognized by Cisco Systems as an Innovation Partner of the Year, and Service Provider in Excellence in Managed Voice in 2008; named as the sixth fastest growing technology company by Forbes magazine in 2009, recipients of a Frost & Sullivan award for North American Customer Service Leadership of the Year in 2010; and recently added to Standard & Poor’s Small Cap S&P 600 Index.
Cbeyond offers more than 30 productivity-enhancing applications including local and long-distance voice, broadband Internet, mobile, BlackBerry® broadband laptop access, voicemail, e-mail, web hosting, fax-to-e-mail, data backup, file-sharing and virtual private networking.
Since they began offering service to their home area of Atlanta in 2001, the company has grown to approximately 1,700 employees, and is a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: CBEY). Cbeyond presently serves 14 markets nationwide: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
Cbeyond targets small businesses with 5 to 250 employees, providing solutions that fall into six categories: voice and broadband services, messaging and collaboration, mobile communications, data backup and security, marketing services, and installation and support.
The Voice and Broadband services area empowers employee communications, and offers an innovative billing plan that allows customers to share long distance calling, mobile pay-per-use, toll-free plus audio and Web conferencing minutes, thus making the monthly bill more predictable.
Messaging and Collaboration services supports hosted Microsoft Exchange e-mail, voicemail, fax to e-mail conversion, a virtual receptionist, audio and Web conferencing and virtual private network offerings.
Mobile Services, which is known as BeyondMobile, provides Microsoft and BlackBerry connectivity solutions that include a mobile workforce manager with GPS tracking capabilities, electronic timesheets, and real-time visibility of mobile workers. Other features include laptop access that provides an out of the office Internet connection, national 3G mobile network coverage, and support for virtual private network connections.
Data Backup and Security Services includes four modules:
- Secure Desktop, which is designed to keep Windows PCs free from viruses, spyware and other Internet threats;
- Secure Backup, which backs up important files automatically with offsite storage to secure critical business information;
- Virtual Private Networks, to securely share data across multiple locations and with remote workers, and
- Managed Firewall, which shields critical resources and blocks unnecessary Internet traffic.
- Marketing Services provides both traditional and Web marketing services to build a small business Website, promote the brand, sell products and services using an e-commerce solution, and deploy a toll-free number in selected markets so that customers can reach the business without cost.
- Installation and Support Services assists new customers with the transition to a new provider, developing a custom solution for their business, plus on-site training and setup to assure that the system provides the optimum productivity solution.
Cbeyond uses a private IP network and softswitch technology to deliver these high quality communications services. Voice calls placed over the Cbeyond infrastructure travel on a dedicated IP network, never touching the public Internet. This allows the company to manage the Quality of Service and prioritization of voice traffic over other data traffic, thereby achieving a service availability claimed to be 99.999 percent. The company operates as a peer to the local phone company, supporting the primary line telephone services such as E911 and operator services, plus an extensive list of line features such as Call Waiting, Caller ID with Name, Three-Way Calling, Call Forwarding, and so on. In addition, all packages include 1.5 Mbps Bandwidth, up to eight local phone lines, three toll free numbers, and one inbound fax to email line.
Cbeyond offers four phone line interfaces: Analog, Digital Primary Rate Interface (PRI), Digital Channel Associated Signaling (CAS), and SIPconnect. Since 2005, Cbeyond has offered a 100 percent end-to-end SIP trunking solution, BeyondVoice with SIPconnect. The SIPconnect service requires that the connected IP Phone System is certified interoperable through Cbeyond’s Platform Partner Program. There is a long list of systems that have passed these interoperability tests, including those from Avaya, Cisco, Digium, Fonality, Linksys, NEC, Panasonic, Siemens, Sphere Communications, Talkswitch, Toshiba, and Zultys.
Applications and features are managed through an online system called CbeyondOnline, which allows customers to create logins for their employees and assign applications for those employees to manage. Costs for these various services are priced on an a la carte basis, allowing customers to add them as they are needed for their users or employees.
Further information on the Cbeyond solutions can be found at www.cbeyond.net. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
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.