MegaPath's move into a broader set of unified communications (UC) services, announced earlier this week, marks a major move to bring more functionality to its hosted voice offering. But it's also the beginning of MegaPath's delivery of more diverse offerings that combine its voice and data capabilities in new ways. (See MegaPath Launches Managed UC Services.)
In fact, expect to see more from MegaPath Inc. in coming weeks as the managed services specialist ups its competitive game to exploit the service footprint it acquired in buying Speakeasy and Covad Communications. (See Mega CLEC Merger Closes and MegaPath Still on Growth Path.)
MegaPath is far from unique in expanding its UC portfolio, but the company has gone beyond the typical offer to bring new integration of mobile working capabilities to its core set of customers, which includes small to midsized businesses and enterprises with widely distributed smaller locations or a more mobile workforce.
Working with CounterPath Solutions Inc. (OTC: CTPS)'s Bria technology, MegaPath created a combination of VoIP services and collaboration that includes screen sharing, presence, instant messaging, SMS text messaging, voicemail transcription into email, call recording and video conferencing -- all on an easy-to-use point and click platform, and all attached to one phone number per user. The software client can be downloaded on the necessary devices and launched from there.
That means workers in different locations, or those on the road, can easily use the device of their preference -- laptop, smartphone or tablet, in addition to desktop computers -- to work together and share information more easily, says John Scarborough, senior VP of marketing and product management of MegaPath. And they can easily transition from one device to another without dropping the communication, whether it is a voice call or an IM chat.
"At the high end, we have been focused on collaboration," he says. "We definitely wanted to include screen sharing, and we think we have a darn good screen share capability."
In a demonstration for Light Reading, Scarborough showed the one-touch option for screen sharing or for adding someone to a conversation from a list of folks in an IM list with presence indicated. All of the functions can be done on any device, making it possible for workers to connect and have a productive conference fall from wherever they are.
SMS texting via the same platform will be part of the service within the next three weeks, he adds, and users will be able to initiative a screen share from an SMS text.
All of this functionality is being offered for about $5 more per month per user, over the MegaPath standard price of $29.95 for standard business voice for a nationwide calling plan and 50 voice features. For an additional $10 or $44.95 total, MegaPath adds call recording and international calling.
A competitive play
All of this is intended to make MegaPath more competitive in the increasingly crowded SMB and distributed enterprise space, where cable players are getting aggressive and telecom players aren't backing down. (See MegaPath Launches Managed WiFi Offering.)
MegaPath has built a strong VoIP play with about 125,000 VoIP business customers, based on BroadSoft Inc. 's technology, but chose to add CounterPath for the additional range of collaboration features, and because the new functions could be added to an existing mobility app.
"There are a couple of key feature capabilities that CounterPath had, over and above Broadsoft, one of them being texting capabilities, plus there was a bit more of a skill set and experience on software development that enabled us to customize this and integrate into and existing mobility app that we have," he noted.
MegaPath is adding these new capabilities on top of its more integrated services dashboard. At one point, following its acquisition of Speakeasy and Covad Communications, the company had three separate portals, then one portal into the three separate systems. Earlier this year, it introduced the ability for customers to order and upgrade voice services and equipment online, and to chat with tech support, billing and order provisioning.
"Within the next 45 days, MegaPath will enable customers to initiate number porting requests within the portal as well as enable Visual Device Management capabilities that enable users to configure their phones in real time using a simple phone-graphic user interface," Scarborough says. "Additionally, MegaPath will greatly enhance the user experience within the portal’s Voice Admin section by giving it a much easier and more intuitive interface for making changes to user accounts."
The managed services specialist has also been offering cloud-based services through partners, including Mozy for data backup, Apptix for hosted Microsoft Exchange email, and Cirracore for data hosting, but may explore doing its own cloud services at some point, Scarborough notes. The number one thing MegaPath's customers have been asking for is cloud-based data backup.
"We will be doing some of that on our own soon, but to this point, we have continued to have a heavy concentration on the voice side," he tells Light Reading. "We are likely to evolve more on the data hosting side -- we have a number of data centers internally that we operate and we are looking at how we can commercialize some of those. In the meantime, our partners have been doing a good job for us."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading