Stage 2 Networks, headquartered in New York City, is a converged services provider that offers connectivity to customers both in the United States and globally.
The privately held company was founded in 2004, and has since grown to employ 20 people, and expanded its portfolio of services to include SIP trunking; Ethernet, T1, bonded T1, and business class DSL private line services; PRI circuits; POTS and PRI replacement services; plus hosted PBX functionality.
The firm’s mission is to provide the latest technologies to their customers, while at the same time, reducing the capital expenditures and operating costs of those solutions. The firm has distribution centers in both South Carolina and Nevada, and is supported by a extensive list of equipment providers, including Acme Packet, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, IBM, Lucent, and Polycom.
Stage 2 markets to the small and medium business sector, with the economies of scale becoming advantageous for 20 users or more—a typical customer having 50 users on their network.
The company operates under the philosophy that businesses deserve more that simple boilerplate solutions, and that it is incumbent on the service provider to understand their client’s business operations, workforce, objectives, and customer base. Once this analysis is complete, a custom solution is designed, which can vary in scope from a single to multiple locations, and vary in geography from the United States to across the globe.
For the hosted PBX and SIP trunking solutions, the company’s niche market is the metropolitan New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania areas, although clients outside of those areas are supported as well. Private network offerings, including the T1, Ethernet, and OCx transport, are provided throughout the United States.
The Stage 2 offerings are divided into three categories: business-class broadband, business trunking, and hosted PBX services.
The business-class broadband services include business class DSL, T-1, bonded T-1 and Metropolitan Ethernet connectivity, and are all provisioned to provide high-speed Internet access that is connected through the private Stage 2 network, thus providing an optimum quality of service. This service is concentrated in major metropolitan markets across the country, including New York, Washington, Orlando, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
The business trunking services are designed to incorporate a customer’s traditional PBX equipment into the IP network, thus enhancing their existing system with minimal expense. Business trunking can be deployed in two forms: ePRI or ePOTS, with the “e” standing for “enhanced” versions of the traditional PRI or POTS functionality. Since all calls enter the Stage 2 softswitch before being passed to the customer’s premises, a hosted PBX phone can be added to the existing system, while still retaining the ability to dial by extension. Mobile users also have the ability to install the BroadWorks Softphone software on their laptops, which gives them the additional ability to make and receive calls when they are away from the main PBX.
The Hosted PBX services provide a feature-rich, yet maintenance-free communication solution for small and medium size businesses, large multi-location businesses, and government agencies. The feature set is designed to match that of an on-premise IP PBX solution, including simultaneous ring, Microsoft Outlook integration and remote office capabilities. Disaster recovery is a key element of this solution, as the Stage 2 Networks’ softswitch can reroute phone calls to landlines or cell phones, or to other locations in the customer’s network, should an outage occur.
Stage 2 supports the Polycom line of executive phones, including the Soundpoint multiline phones, and the Soundstation conferencing phones. Network deployment is simplified by Stage 2 shipping the new IP phones preset with the proper network settings, which are then configured by the local network manager within the BroadWorks system in a matter of minutes.
Hosted customers are given the option of purchasing two different types of user licenses, depending upon their particular feature and functionality requirements. Both options come with the same dial plan that provides the user with unlimited local and regional calling as well as 1,000 minutes of state-to-state long distance.
The Standard User License is designed for customers that require the basic calling capabilities such as call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, 3-way calling ,and voicemail, but do not need the mobility features. The Premium User License extends the standard features to include shared call line appearances, a busy lamp field, paging, find me/follow me, unified messaging, remote office, alternate numbers, selective acceptance/rejection, and Microsoft Internet Explorer/Outlook toolbar integration. Exact pricing is customized to each customer’s individual requirements.
Further information on the Stage 2 Networks solutions can be found at http://stage2networks.com/ . 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.