Business Phone Service Now On The Web

May 20, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — For those companies that only use the Web to search for information, keep in contact with clients and purchase Christmas gifts, another service has been added.

WorldCom recently introduced “d street,” a completely online method for small businesses to choose, configure, purchase and manage local service, long distance, toll-free service, calling card and Internet, dedicated lines and dial-up access.

“We are redefining online business communications for companies who are cost-conscious but want all the reliability and dependability that only a proven service provider can offer,” said Paul Adams, WorldCom representative.

When speaking of small business, Adams said d street is looking to focus on non-home-based businesses, companies with five to 20 employees that are spending $500 to $5,000 a month on telecom.

“These are the businesses that are often ignored and haven’t seen many benefits of increased competition in the telecom marketplace,” he added.

While offering all of these services to customers through the Web site, www.dstreet.com, there are certain geographic areas in which one or more of the WorldCom services are available.

“All you have to do if you are interested in service is go to the Web site, type in your business’s address and see what services are offered in your area,” Adams said.

And while d street is a new method of investigating the software and purchasing it in a simpler manner, WorldCom is not new to the West Michigan area.

“We have been here for five years and have been providing run-off network facilities the entire time,” Adams explained.

“We have also had a physical presence, so each area is supported by a local customer service area. This is kind of like a coming back to Grand Rapids for us, and this way we have an opportunity to reach out to a different market of businesses.”

Adams said d street offers customers a basic plan involving local and long distance calls with up to 1,500 minutes — 1,000 local and 500 long distance — for $29 a month.

“The one comparison I can give is that we are like basic cable. We offer a basic plan and then there are additional options which can be added on as you develop your business,” he said.

Adams added that this is a 76 percent savings when compared with similar plans in the area. One example is the local Basics plan, which runs small business customers close to $129, according to Adams.

However, the benefits do not lie in cost savings alone. In fact, the thing that might be most appealing to small businesses is the timesaving factor. The Web site allows a customer to compile a list of rates, request the services to be purchased and purchase those services in no time at all.

From there, once an order is placed WorldCom works directly with the local Bell company to handle all paperwork on change orders. When ready, the existing phone number is ported to WorldCom facilities and installed on one of the local service switches in the city.

To complete the process, WorldCom tests all aspects of the service, verifies the quality of service and notifies the customer when the change process is complete. Adams said the procedure is virtually transparent to the customer. The d street support reps handle and explain all aspects of the implementation process.

“Another reason we are able to save our customers money is because of our savings on manpower, paperwork and so many other costs that go into running a non-digital communications facility,” said Adams.

“We also make it easy for the customer to deal with one service provider. We are a one-stop shopping, and we also feel it is easy because we not only have all of the services to offer, but some of the best prices as well.”

In the year to come, d street is looking at the option of providing DSL service as well. “This is something that may be coming soon. We will start by offering it to certain areas and eventually growing to meet the needs of all of our customers,” Adams said.

“We have only been up and running for about six months, but we are already looking into the future and seeing what we can do to serve those small businesses and allow them to grow their business as well.”

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