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Developer-Reseller sees growth potential as customers join private switched network.

Developer/reseller Sees Growth Potential as Customers Join Private Switched Network The Wilbur Boyd Corporation, based in Bradenton, Florida, is a diversified real estate and financial services company operating a variety of subsidiaries across Florida's west cost. Its operations include commercial banking, real estate development, venture-capital lending, investment banking, and a multitude of other services from insurane to pipeline leasing.

The progressive style of Boyd as a dynamic, entrepreneurial company shines through in its latest venture, Wilbur Boyd Communications Incorporated. With Boyd Communications, the company has taken its first step in becoming a small telecommunications operation.

"As with all businesses, you enter into a venture for profit," said Stephen Oliver, chief operating officer at Boyd. "When we began our plans to develop a 125,000-square-foot commercial office building, we looked at areas that could provide us with additional income--added profit centers. It became quite evident that communications, in one form or another, was an area for potential profit--a service we could offer prospective tenants. So we made the commitment to go into the communications business, operating on the same principle as any local phone company that sells its service to a business or a home, just on a smaller scale."

Once the decision was made to undertake Boyd Communications, Oliver hired Shared Communications Consultants (SCC) from Dallas to help identify the ideal system for Boyd's needs, both immediate and future. "We began by developing a shopping list of the things we felt necessary to have on a system to make it a true profit center," said Oliver. "Then we went looking for manufacturers. We talked to everyone. We found that the system that most-closely matched our needs was Ztel and its PBX, the PNX."

Boyd and SCC put together a request for proposal that was presented to four potential PBX suppliers. System needs were broken down into six main requirements.

* The system had to be cost effective at 300 lines or less, but expandable in small increments up to a large size;

* It had to provide both voice and data switching capabilities;

* Flexibility in software design was important to allow almost daily changes in equipment, networks and locations as the corporation and its needs grew;

* It had to provide partitions to maintain voice and data security and to meet any bypass restrictions;

* Requirements for account codes for billing by network management had to be met;

* The system had to provide Tl interface to link remote sites.

"The features that we found most compelling in the switch we chose were the automatic conversion for transmitting data between dissimilar personal computers and terminals, the sophistication of the attendant console, and the messaging system. And from a cost perspective, we have projected a 10-percent annual return on our investment, while our tenants will realize a savings of more than 10 percent when compared to the purchase of a regular phone system," said Joe Torg, Boyd's vice president of system automation.

According to Torg, the PBX system installed is a 224-line system, configured for 160 voice-only, 32 voice-and-data, and 32 analog-only phones. It was installed in the Bradenton Financial Center, a 12-story office building developed and operated by Boyd. Boyd currently leases services on the system to two tenants--Dean Witter Reynolds and The County Bank. For long-distance phone service, is has leased ports to Telesystems, which in turn offers volume long-distance calling discounts to both tenants. As the reselling of long-distance calling becomes more economical, Boyd Communications plans to offer its own network for volume discounts.

Torg esplained that with SCC's assistance, it is in the process of installing a network through the switch for County Bank. This will allow multiple terminals to access a dial-up port on an IBM financial loop network. The result will give users access to the network from any terminal in the bank. Again, from a cost perspective, County Bank has projected savings from the installation for the first year of nearly $50,000.

"The fact that we can offer both a voice and data communications system to our tenants is a real advantage for us," Torg said. "The switch operates its data transmission at 56,000 b/s. By itself that doesn't mean too much. But compare it to a transmission rate of 4,000 bits per second offered by some systems, and you can see we're offering our tenants a good voice-and-data system. And with data transmission requirements increasing within corporations on an almost daily basis, a high-speed, cost-effective switch is crucial."

The switch utilizes a simplified wiring scheme that greatly contributes to its cost efficiency. Because it uses a single wire for both voice and data, once the biulding is wired there is no need to run additional wiring from offices because of personnel changes, office reconfigurations or the addition of new PCs and telsets. The ability of the switch to transmit both voice and data also provides significant cost savings per line.

Management-Console Control is Important

Beyond the upfront purchase and installation cost, Boyd Communications was interested in long-term cost efficiencies, particularly in the area of system administration and control, service upgrades and maintenance.

"For example," explained Willard Thomas, SCC's president, "when the switch was brought on line for Boyd, a data base was previously established with names and office locations. Last-minute personnel moves, however, made the initial listing obsolete before it was ever used. We changed more than 70 percent of that data base in less than a day right from the management console. It was that simple. It didn't affect the entire system, which still ran normally." Thomas added that the management console has proven to be the nerve center of the communications company. Directly from the console, company personnel can control and monitor trunk assignment facilities, cost management and analysis, traffic analysis, feature management on individual telsets, security for data transmissions, and perhaps most important, diagnostics and maintenance.

"The fact that we can control our own diagnostics and maintenance is what allows us to provide the level of service necessary to operate as a communications company," Torg said. "When something is amiss, we simply locate the problem on the console screen and determine what needs to be fixed or changed. Once isolated, faulty trunks, telsets or equipment are removed from service without interfering with the ongoing operation. Our tenants appreciate that."

Beyond the high technology associated with operating a PBX system, the firm also places a high degree of importance on user features. This is evident in the company's view of the switch's messaging capabilities. "With this type of messaging system, you don't have to face the horror of being out of the office for a few days and returning to see a hundred pink slips piled on your desk," said Oliver. "I simply go to my phone, call up my messages, view them, and if I want, return the calls with a single keystroke. It's a real time saver."

Like most progressive companies, Boyd has its eye on the future as well. Plans are under way to increase the size of the system to operate as the central switch within a 600-acre mixed residential and commercial development.

"The fact that we can build up the system at the same rate as our own development plans is critical to us. You don't have to grow into the system and at the same time you really can't grow out of it." Torg said. "For example, the switch right now is working very well for our company and our tenants. But with this mixed development goign up (luxury condos, office buildings, a hotel and a golf course) we'll be able to expand our offering and still provide a better voice-and-data communications system without ever having to purchase a whole new switch--we'll simply add on when and where we need it."

With offices in different areas, Oliver said he sees his entire corporation's communications, with the addition of microwave and fiber optics, being controlled on the PNX, offering evengreater efficiency with centralized billing and maintenance.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1986
Previous Article:An introduction to how data communications works by networking of computers, terminals and modems.
Next Article:Trends in the communications industry spring from advances in semiconductors.

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