BBTelsys re-launches local effort

February 2, 2009
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A new location, new ownership and a new direction: BBTelsys is taking the New Year’s resolution thing pretty seriously.

The original company started several years ago based on offering residential telephone services — a tough game to play against some of the big players like AT&T, said Roland Scott, CEO.

“When we took over the company, we evaluated where you could do some strong niche play,” he said.

Scott spent about a year searching the Grand Rapids community to put together more than 30 investors, then bought the company approximately 18 months ago to “see if we can make a go for a telephone carrier right here in Grand Rapids,” he said.

Under Scott’s leadership, the company has gone from primarily serving residential customers to attracting and servicing business clients.

“Basically, we’re what I would call the new generation of telephone carriers, which solely operate over the Internet. What we’re about is servicing the needs of the businesses, primarily,” said Scott.

“We’re a personal approach to make sure businesses get up and running and have a high quality of service and high quality of calling.”

The telephone industry, Scott said, is undergoing a major transformation, moving away from traditional telephone lines toward using Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

“It’s cheaper because the Internet network is so much more efficient than utilizing the traditional copper wires and such,” said Scott. “Voice data is such a small part of traffic compared to video and anything else put on the Web; it’s so much faster. Basically, the Internet is a free highway.”

BBTelsys carries to 47 states and in December began servicing Canada. The Internet provides more secure lines than traditional telephone service and offers higher quality and quick backups for rerouting calls. This also makes it possible for businesses to have at their disposal “all sorts of goodies that come with a high-tech service,” said Scott.

“What we’re helping them do is to implement the first stages of VoIP, which means just transitioning your existing lines so they work over the Internet,” he said. “Then we’re introducing them to new services.”

One feature customers can elect to use is called “One Number.” One Number means a user has a single number that ties together office, mobile and home phones along with fax. The user also has the ability to set up call patterns for the day, which lets the user decide what callers are blocked, said Scott.

TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is an encryption technology that the company plans to implement this month. TLS is mostly used by businesses that have a very high level of information they need to pass on securely. In layman terms, TLS piggybacks a conversation as it moves through the Internet and puts an encryption around the data so it is much more difficult to tap into. The benefit of TLS is that it is a very small “packet,” so once the data is received on the other end, it can be broken down very quickly. BBTelyss sees this service as one that will differentiate it from the competition.

“We’re the first carrier that we know of that’s taking it from the customer phones and locations to our switch,” said Scott. “We have the technology on our carrier level switches to encrypt phone calls.”

BBTelsys prides itself on being a very technology-driven company that specializes in personal service. It hopes to deepen its roots here in West Michigan as it serves an international client base.

“We just think there is a wealth of opportunities. Even small businesses need a personal approach to get the most of their technology,” he said. “One of the things we need to do is, of course, grow fast. We’d like to be one of the emerging companies here in the area.”

Another part of deepening those local roots includes BBTelsys’ new home at 3001 Orchard Vista Drive in Grand Rapids where it moved eight months ago. The space included an unused data center where the company was able to store some of its technology, though most of it is in Chicago. The company also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to publicly introduce its new image.

“We wanted to announce to people that we were re-launching to serve small to large businesses,” said Scott. “We are in this space of advanced technology and we wanted to make sure we (announced) it in a formal way.”

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