Transforming telecommunications for business

Free business phone lines—the idea may seem impossible. Fibernetics CLEC, under the Fibernetics Group of Companies, have successfully achieved this through its Digital PBX Phone Systems. Based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., Fibernetics has managed to create a successful enterprise using the latest telecommunications technologies. This month, The Canadian Business Journal investigated this intriguing idea and find out the Fibernetics formula for success.
Fibernetics began as a business DSL Internet Service, and eventually expanded the offer to include free business phones. Jody Schnarr, CEO of Fibernetics, and John Stix, Chief Marketing Officer, saw an opportunity to provide a solution for the incredibly high cost of business phone lines. It was from there that their telecommunications business was born. After installing a proprietary Fibernetics Digital PBX Phone System, customers never have to pay for business phone lines again.

Cost-effective model

Chris Lehman, Vice-President of Business Services, speaks about the evolution of the business. “We knew we could leverage our advantage with our network capacity by bringing a dedicated connection, putting Internet over the same connection, at a very cost-effective rate for business and the same things we did with residential and long distance, eliminating the monthly cost of those multiple lines with a single expense with a dedicated connection into our network.”

“When we became a CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier), the idea was to become our own provider and to vertically integrate our companies to support those existing businesses,” says Lehman. The Fibernetics focus is on bringing really high value products to the market and being innovative in its product and marketing strategies, taking the same approach to the business market, bringing products to the market that were representative of new, emerging technologies, and focusing on those technologies.

Businesses of course are investing in fast DSL Internet connections—but using digital phone lines has traditionally seen resistance in the business community who eye it with mistrust. “We had to be able to provide a level of call quality that not only met but exceeded customer satisfaction, especially for business,” says Lehman.

That wasn’t the only challenge for this bold idea either. “We knew we had to provide a cost benefit to the customer as well, being able to save them money, and third thing was people are understandably nervous of the kind of technology that can be unreliable, so we knew those were the big three things we had to address, providing a level of survivability for the customer.”

Fibernetics has proven itself to be an impressive and reliable technology, giving the business a competitive advantage in the marketplace. “We don’t go through any third-party networks to get the voice to the customer,” Lehman explains. “We manage that call quality.”

The digital PBX phone system

The success of Fibernetics is based on a combination of established legacy systems with emerging Internet protocol-based technologies. As an established CLEC, Fibernetics has access into Bell Canada’s well-established fiber-optic network, ensuring a high level of scalability, reliability, and quality of service.

The features of the business phone system are comparable to any telephone—call waiting, unlimited auto attendants, conference calls, voicemail to email, call parking, call transfers, amongst many of the other business standards that are not generally available from other Internet-based services. And as a testament to Lehman’s comments about cost effectiveness, these services are not only available, but free of charge.

“Our customer savings open the conversation and our feature-rich product is very competitive with anything else on the market. The world has really changed from five or 10 years ago,” says Lehman, noting the competitive advantage of the Fibernetics system. All that is required is the initial installation of the system—after that, there is no cost for services.

Growth and development

As a technology-based company, Fibernetics is always in development for new products and to expand into new markets. “We have a product that is stable and we’re looking at the next version of that product for the future,” Lehman said. “We’re always road mapping different things, always actively involved in research and development, always looking at the market, and what is the next thing to come out.”

Fibernetics is looking into further Canadian expansion this year, and especially outside of the Kitchener-Waterloo area. “We started in Kitchener-Waterloo and a lot of our customers are around this area simply because this is where we are. This company has been here for 15 years and a CLEC since 2005,” notes Lehman. After the Canadian expansion this year, Fibernetics has its eye on the lucrative and expansive U.S. market as well.

Fibernetics is looking for partners to assist with this expansion, beginning with the GTA—the most logical first place to expand. With a proven revenue model and a crucial link to the Bell communications network, Fibernetics can provide a viable business choice.

“We’d like to be the recognizable choice for consumers and for business people for their services.”