A Billing Bundle

A Billing Bundle

Phillip Reynolds – Joint CEO Oak Telecom

On the back of a last quarter that saw his sales of call logging products rise 30% Phillip Reynolds, Joint CEO at Oak Telecom, talks to Editor Ian Hunter about his company’s entrance this month in to the network reseller market.

“It is clear that we have been very successful in the channel,” says Phillip Reynolds, “Otherwise why would so many of our competitors copy our channel model for call logging, call billing and call recording?”

Oak is now setting out to redefine the switchless reseller market and make a certain segment of the market your own – how do you intend to do that?

Reynolds, “Our strategy is simple.We have the market leading billing platform, aBILLity, which has tremendous acceptance in the channel. It is both flexible and powerful and has a cost structure geared to reseller business levels so at the same time the product is highly affordable. Minutes resellers have for some time recognised the value in having their own billing system so our strategy in entering the minutes market is based upon providing those resellers that have a typical call spend with us of say £5-10k per month with a free aBILLity system. For the reseller this represents a saving for them of around £3500 to £6000 a year. The irony is that at the same time these resellers will now be able to buy minutes from Oak Telecom at as good a rate as carriers would give them.”


Would it be fair to say that resellers that fall into this category of spend value would be unlikely to attract the attention of carriers?

Reynolds, “That’s correct. Carriers are in the main looking at resellers with around a £25k per month spend as a starting point for a direct relationship.We consider that Oak Telecom therefore has the potential to become the de facto minutes supplier of choice for the smaller minutes reseller.”


With which carriers have you decided to partner for this new initiative?

Reynolds, “Opal and THUS. It suits both carriers that Oak are so strong in the SME market and can therefore manage the smaller reseller. Our unique selling proposition is that we can offer resellers both billing and minutes. Added to this we have developed a special version of our AI Office call logging product to provide call management for our billing and minutes customers. It’s a great deal for the channel and all we are looking for is a one year minimum contract from the reseller for our billing system.”


What resources are you putting in place to develop and support your minutes business?

Reynolds, “Lee Essex, who has been with Oak for some time, has been promoted to Product Manager and will be charged with developing the new business alongside our existing team. Lee will focus on the product proposition, documentation, pricing and training.”


What plans do you have to develop the aBILLity billing market?

Reynolds, “aBILLity is a multi-level product. As I mentioned earlier, smaller resellers normally fall into what we class as either Level 1 or Level 2 categories depending upon the overall amount of revenue – lines and calls etc, – that is processed each month by the application. Level 3 is for the larger resellers who usually have a direct carrier relationship. Oak is planning to recruit 100 resellers in the Level 1 and 2 category and I would like to point out we will be much more flexible in our approach to taking them on. Once a partner is on board we will of course be seeking to see if we can provide other products and services to them.”


Does that mean Oak will be providing broadband and VoIP?

Reynolds, “Our first priority will be to get the billing and minutes business working but yes, we will add broadband and wholesale line rental. Today, carriers will tell you that it is important to own the broadband circuit, as VoIP will be run over that circuit at some point. Our view is that whilst that is correct, and don’t forget you really do need QoS on that circuit, we don’t see any difference in that proposition to one which says you need to own the PSTN lines going into the customer. After all it is likely that these are the lines that will be changed out or converted to broadband.”


How do you see the market evolving?

Reynolds, “We know the minute market is changing and that it seems inevitable that broadband will be the carrier of VoIP in the future. Significantly I believe that the charging structure will also change and the market will adopt a ‘flat rate’ model. Therefore I see the key to success will be to develop services for users. The only way for carriers to survive these changes is to sell volume products for the same amount each month. What I mean by this is that analogue line costs per month will be replaced by broadband circuits and roughly the same monthly cost. £30.00 a month would seem to be a commercial figure.”


Why is Oak Telecom getting into the minutes market now?

Reynolds, “We are not late into the market and prefer to think we are here at just the right time – at the beginning of the VoIP telecoms revolution.”

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