CenturyLink serves up flat-rate managed VoIP service, looks to lure more SMBs from cable, CLECs

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CenturyLink has introduced its new Business VoIP for small businesses, a move that likely reflects the telco’s desire to win more small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers that may have churned to cable or a competitive provider.

Offering a set of phone features for a flat monthly rate, the service is managed for customers by CenturyLink.

Vernon Irvin, senior vice president, CenturyLink, said in a release that the new product is ideal for SMBs who don’t have the resources to manage their own VoIP network infrastructure.

"Our new robust communications platform gives these businesses access to enterprise-grade features without the need for on-site IT technical support to install and maintain services,” Irvin said. “Budget-conscious businesses can rely on CenturyLink to meet all of their technology needs, including high-speed internet plus a suite of offerings with Office 365 and other business applications.”

RELATED: CenturyLink, Level 3 Q2 results to be challenged by enterprise secular pressures, says Jefferies

By leveraging a single cloud-based unified communications platform for business-class communications, CenturyLink claims the service can enhance flexibility, mobility, collaboration and customer engagement.

As a pre-packaged service, customers can use their existing analog or IP phone equipment with optional softphone or they can purchase new equipment.

Customers can choose from two packages, both of which include unlimited nationwide long distance, competitive international rates and VoIP features:

Premium Seat Package: Priced at $20 per user, per month, this service option offers a set of premium features such as call hold, call transfer, 5-way calling and voicemail.

Premium Seat Package with Unified Communications: For an additional $5, this $25 a month service offers the same VoIP features, plus the ability to receive business calls on a mobile device and send and receive instant messages, desktop and file sharing capabilities.

Other features include Outlook directory and calendar integration and file sharing between clients, plus the ability to integrate multiple devices, such as a laptop or cell phone, to utilize their VoIP service when offsite.

Given the mobile nature of SMBs, CenturyLink is also offering businesses the option to bundle their landline VoIP services with Verizon Wireless service. CenturyLink does not offer its own wireless service, but the telco previously established a relationship with the wireless carrier for its business and consumer divisions.

The new VoIP services may have some future potential, but the telco will likely see revenue challenges in the second quarter, particularly due to expected legacy service declines.

Analysts expect this will be a key theme in CenturyLink’s second quarter business results it will release on Wednesday.

“We expect continued losses of Legacy revenue to weigh on both 2Q and FY results with the margin loss from Legacy declines overwhelming any gains in Strategic Services,” Jefferies said in a research note.

A similar theme took place in the first quarter where CenturyLink’s enterprise segment revenues were $2.36 billion, down 3.5% from first quarter 2016, a factor it attributes to a decline in legacy revenues, which was partially offset by 4.2% growth in high-bandwidth data services revenues.