Extending the Network One Customer at a Time

Success brings responsibilities—and change. M5 Networks, an award-winning provider of outsourced IP telephone service to SMBs in the New York metro area has recently turned a challenge into an opportunity.

“Larger and larger businesses are interested in our service,” M5 president and CEO Dan Hoffman told VoIPplanet.com, “many of whom have satellite offices around the country. And of course one of the big powers of the network and networked voice, is that you can very effectively unify communications across multiple offices. Demand has been building.”

This week M5 announced multi-location deployments for two clients—Prince Minerals, and TOTAL Lubricants USA—that are headquartered in New York, but have satellite offices scattered across five other states. These two installations, among others, mark M5’s successful entrance into serving SMB clients in markets across the United States.

“As a geographically diverse company conducting operations in eleven different offices, the phone system has a considerable impact on our organization,” said Prince Minerals’ Chairman and President, J. Willson Ropp. “For instance, we run our entire customer service center out of a single office, and the phone system is the primary means for support.” The M5 VoIP solution facilitates this operation in a secure, redundant way.

TOTAL Lubricants’ IT Manager, Lynn Tornich, told a similar tale: “The centralized nature of M5’s Outsourced IP Phone System allows us to support end-users virtually anywhere in the country,” said Tornich. “Instead of wasting internal resources managing complicated phone system equipment in our offices, our staff benefits from M5’s experience and expertise serving hundreds of businesses with it’s outsourced solution.”

M5, too, is happy with the way this expansion is proceeding. “We’re not falling into the trap that a lot of people do, of expanding everywhere at once,” Dan Hoffman told VoIPplanet.com. “Your service quality can be under some pressure if you do that.” Working with established customers and local IT consulting partners lets the company extend the brand without compromising reliability.

How does M5 reach into new territory? The answer has three components.

First, M5’s network is a “managed” broadband network. That is, they control their pipes rather than rely on unmanaged Internet connections. According to Hoffman, extending that managed network to far-flung locations is becoming easier and easier.

“The cost for T-1 lines across the country is very close to what it costs us across town,” he explained. “So it’s very easy for us to provide that local loop service across the U.S., which is the core of our private connections to our clients.” M5 sometimes uses telco products such as MPLS lines to achieve a similar degree of control over its call quality.

Piece number two is phone numbers. “A number of telcos have started to offer services that allow us to provision phone numbers anywhere in the country,” Hoffman said. The company simply purchases the numbers it needs—including 911 and 411 numbers.

The third element is the ongoing relationship with customers’ IT departments and a core of IT consultants who do the physical installation.

None of this requires installing or maintaining infrastructure in customers’ offices—other than phones, of course. “All of the phone calls are dragged back to our brains—the central call processing here in New York,” Hoffman observed. “We’re able to get phone calls in and out correctly just by buying services here in New York.”

A comfortable way to initiate a potentially nationwide expansion.

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