While MegaPath began life as an ISP with a focus on broadband, the company’s 2006 merger with Netifice and 2007 acquisition of DSL.net greatly expanded its offering to include VPN services for both the SMB and enterprise markets, along with a range of other products and services—including DSL.net’s Duet combined VoIP and data offering.
Under DSL.net, the Duet service was limited to Washington, D.C. and New York City, but after the acquisition, MegaPath made Duet a nationwide offering through its partnership with Covad. “We’ve got about 12 network-to-network interconnects with Covad… and that allows us to deliver traffic privately from a given site across the Covad connection and into our MPLS network,”(def) says Greg Davis, MegaPath’s vice president of product marketing.
The Duet service, Davis says, now reaches more than 2,000 central offices, making it available to more than 7.3 million small to medium size businesses across the U.S.
Davis says MegaPath has also upgraded the BroadSoft VoIP platform that’s behind Duet—but the fact that the voice always runs over a private network, he says, is what really makes a difference. “Whether it’s on our own facilities in the northeast, or Covad’s facilities elsewhere in the country, that voice traffic is always on a private network,” he says. “It never touches the public Internet, and it’s always prioritized over the data, and as a result, you get the same call quality and reliability that you would with a traditional phone call.”
To serve larger businesses than DSL.net’s target market had required, Davis says, MegaPath also expanded the product’s functionality to support up to 24 lines and up to 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth. And while Duet was originally limited to supporting analog connections, at Spring VON.x last week, MegaPath announced the addition of support for digital PBX and IP PBX systems with PRI and SIP trunk interfaces. “When you’ve got 15 or 20 employees, at that point, you’re probably looking to use a PBX as opposed to a key system,” Davis says.
Pricing for Duet varies according to the number of phone lines and the bandwidth required, starting at $99 a month for two phone lines on an SDSL circuit. Each additional phone line costs $30 a month. “We’ve made it very ‘postalized’ pricing—it’s flat rate unlimited local and long distance calling with all the features for one low monthly price, with no startup cost… it’s incredibly easy to switch from your existing service, there’s no cost to switch, there’s no downtime, and you can keep your same phone numbers,” Davis says.
It also comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. “If for any reason you want us to switch it back, we’ll switch it back,” Davis says. “But we haven’t had that happen.”
On March 10, MegaPath announced the addition of Duet to its Channel Partner Program, which had previously been limited to the company’s data services. According to Davis, there are two key levels of partnerships—Referral Partners simply forward leads and get two months’ recurring revenue as reward, while Advantage and Master Partners take a more active sales role and receive a percentage of the monthly recurring fee for the duration of the contract.
The key selling points for Duet, Davis says, come down to the reliability of the private network and the straightforwardness of the pricing. “We have made it incredibly easy not only for the customer to switch and sign up for the service, but also for our partners to sell the service, because it’s a flat monthly rate for unlimited local and long distance,” he says. “They don’t have to navigate some complicated metered pricing arrangement—it’s just a simple, single price with no upfront costs. It’s very simple to sell, simple to buy, and easy to install. We try to make it as easy as possible to do business with us.”