Razorline® finds disaster recovery a bigger seller

Carol Wilson of Connected Planet writes:

In the post-Katrina environment, disaster recovery has become a big part of Razorline’s pitch. One local school district just purchased the service and now it’s part of the disaster plan for teachers and administrators to take their phones with them in case of an evacuation to make it easier to get in touch.

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RazorLine VOIP lets employees take the work phone with them

by Richard Slawsky
New Orleans CityBusiness

Although several companies already offer telephone service using Voice Over Internet Protocol, Metairie-based RazorLine wants to take the technology to a new level.

Along the way, the company hopes to strike a blow at traditional telephone service and recreate the traditional office.

VOIP uses the data network that carries Internet traffic instead of the traditional copper wires to carry voice traffic. By converting voice traffic into digital information, one cable can carry hundreds or thousands of times as much information.

“Nationally, this type of service only has about 3 percent market penetration, so we are at the very beginning of the development of this technology,” said RazorLine co-founder Gene Dry. “We are the only ones doing this in New Orleans.”

RazorLine’s success depends on persuading small businesses to switch to the company’s bundled communication services. While VOIP is the latest buzzword in telecommunications, Dry insists RazorLine’s style of VOIP offers an advantage that “old-fashioned” VOIP does not.

Many companies sell VOIP equipment and service, but a Private Branch Exchange is still required to run the system, Dry said. PBX systems usually require a technician to add extensions or move the service to a new location, he said.

RazorLine’s service functions, normally handled by a PBX system, are instead routed by RazorLine computers in an equipment room in downtown New Orleans.

Dry says a business with approximately 70 employees and associated telephone numbers could save between $800 and $1,000 per month by adopting this type of service. The savings would mainly come from lower equipment maintenance costs, he said

“We are targeting companies with between 20 and 100 employees,” Dry said. “For a company that size, there can be some significant cost savings.”

Dry, his brother Jim Dry, and Richard Jaubert founded RazorLine in January as an extension of 6-year-old NewPhone, a Metairie-based company. The trio of Louisiana State University graduates founded NewPhone to sell prepaid telephone service to customers with damaged credit. NewPhone has 30,000 customers in nine states, a staff of 90, and revenues of more than $20 million.

The team hired a sales staff to market RazorLine’s service, which initially will be offered in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Jaubert and Gene Dry handle the New Orleans office while Jim Dry covers Baton Rouge.

RazorLine’s service differs from traditional telephone service and traditional VOIP service, Jaubert said, through the makeup of the telephones. Unlike traditional VOIP or telephone service, each phone has its own Internet protocol address, the unique identification number used in routing e-mail and identifying the location of Web pages on the Internet.

“The interesting feature of the product is the mobility,” Jaubert said. “You can actually take a phone home with you, plug it into your DSL line, and if someone calls your office number the phone will ring at your house.”

RazorLine installs a T1 data line to its customer’s office and installs a router to channel data traffic between computers or other Internet devices. The router is then connected to the office’s pre-existing data cable system or cable is installed. Data is then routed through RazorLine’s equipment on Poydras Street, then on to the Internet or to the telephone network.

Telephones can also be plugged into a broadband connection outside the office, Jaubert said.

One reason companies such as RazorLine can offer service at lower prices than traditional phone service is they are classified as data services and not subject to the same excise taxes traditional phone companies pay. That gives companies such as RazorLine an unfair advantage, some say.

“BellSouth’s position is that all VOIP providers, regardless of the service they provide or the regulatory classification they are in, should be subject to the same obligations, including contributing to the Universal Service Fund,” said Merlin Villar, regional director with Atlanta-based Bellsouth Inc.

The Universal Service Fund helps provide service in areas where it otherwise wouldn’t be economically feasible. The issue is under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission, Villar said. BellSouth offers VOIP service to business customers who request it, he said, but the company voluntarily assesses a charge for contributions to the Universal Service Fund.”

RazorLine Brings Innovative Technology to New Orleans

Bundled Service Is Pipeline to Better Business Communication

New Orleans, LA- Nationwide, consumers have been trading out traditional phone services and expensive long distance costs for cell phones and high speed Internet connections to host a variety of communications alternatives. Transmission of voice and data over telephone lines is becoming obsolete.

So what options do local businesses have when they are ready to make a full conversion to digital communications and say goodbye to costly, inefficient phone lines? In New Orleans, RazorLine is giving small and medium-sized companies an option.

Local businessmen and RazorLine proprietors, Gene Dry, Jim Dry and Richard Jaubert, are the first locally of what is expected to be a national swarm of carriers offering this technology. RazorLine’s primary services are local and long distance telephone, email, voicemail, Internet services, web presence, and online billing. What sets them apart from other “bundled” service carriers is that all of these major types of communication – voice, Internet and data – are available in one convenient package.

This “bundled” technology is made possible by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the newest communications delivery method in the business world. It converts voice into data and transfers it over the same line as other data, allowing businesses to use a single connection to transmit and receive all forms of information.

Industry Growth

The growth of the use of VoIP is expected to be tremendous. The Wall Street Journal, citing The Yankee Group, reports that by the end of 2004, 20 percent of new phones shipped to the United Sates will use VoIP technology, and by 2007, that number is expected to exceed 50 percent (WSJ Online, January 12, 2004).

The voiceover trend is also emerging in traditional phone companies. AT&T recently announced to business and regular consumers that it will soon be able to provide VoIP, as the demand for this service continually increases, and voice services and the Internet become more closely tied together (WSJ Online, February 9, 2004).

Benefits

The biggest benefits RazorLine offers are the simplicity of dealing with one service provider and the elimination of PBX systems, which companies use to manage various communication lines. RazorLine replaces PBX systems with an Internet-based, Internet-operable Hosted IP system, eliminating maintenance agreements and in-house technical equipment, while offering PBX features plus advanced features, more flexibility of service, and cost efficiency.

According to RazorLine’s manager, Gene Dry, “There is no longer a need for a business to invest capital into bulky telephone equipment. And better yet, there are no more maintenance fees or waiting for a telephone technician.”

Jim Dry, who heads the Baton Rouge office, adds, “And the system is ‘future-proof,’ easily accommodating state-of-the art technology as it is available in the market.”

And that’s music to any office manager’s ears – and bottom line.

An added benefit is access. Partner Richard Jaubert explains, “Business people with highly mobile offices, such as real estate agents, have constantly been challenged to keep up with their desktops, telephones and faxes while away from their primary office. An Internet-based system allows users to plug into the communication system at their primary office anywhere in the world through a high-speed data port.”

RazorLine is targeting small to medium sized businesses, with a minimum of ten phones. RazorLine’s business sales manager is Randy Hymel.