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Rockefeller Center offers telco choice.


Rockefeller Center is a prestigious buseiness address in New York City. Business locating there are looking for more than just office or retail space.

That something extra includes a private telephone company that provides centrex-like services to publishers, airline offices, retailers, lawyers, consulates, museums, and scores of others among the 1200 tenants in the midtown Manhattan complex of 22 buildings.

Tenants can choose New York Telephone or Rockefeller Group Telecommunications Services (RGT), a tariffed telco located on-site. That closeness is one of the best selling points for RGT, which was formed in the mid-1980s to enhance the value of Rockefeller Center real estate.

"We provide turnkey telecommunications services with an on-site presence. There are very few firms like ours," boasts Ed Fontenot, vice president of technology and operations for RGT.

Can't Be Bothered

"We have AT&T switching technology. We do the physical construction, all the wiring, we install all station equipment and maintain it.

"We manage the network so users no longer have to worry. Most firms don't have the skills to operate their own system. They want to concentrate on their own work. Lawyers want to be lawyers. Publishers want to read and write.

"People are willing to pay a premium for quality service."

Other selling points: a new voice mail system, consulting services, local area network installations, facilities management, and diverse routing. In the Jan. 15 AT&T outage, for instance, few RGT users were affected, Fontenot says. Most of the long-distance traffic is carried ove its private network.

One RGT customer is the law firm of Donovan, Leisure, Newton, and Irvine, with 325 phones. The firm used to spend a lot of time administering its phone system, but turned that job over to RGT.

Now calls not picked up on three rings go to a message center, and the phone sets the firm uses have advanced features, such as caller name display for internal calls. Office Manager John Lino says he wished he could have had that feature sooner.

Lino recalls he was in a meeting last year. "I was expecting an importance call from my boss. I didn't have a secretary at the time, so I had to pick up each of the calls during the meeting. The first four calls weren't my boss. The fifth time I decided not to pick up, and it was my boss. With the RGT system, I would have known."

Some law firms in the center take advantage of RGT's billing-by-client offering. As they make a call, lawyers touch in a code for that client account. RGT computers save that information and provide it on the law firm's bill later, so it can assess the costs to clients.

"Some of these firms that used to recover 20% of their phone charges now recover 80% or more," says Fontenot.

RGT users have AT&T as their primary carrier, but where there is a high concentration of long-distance traffic, RGT extends its own network, with the help of other carriers.

For instance, it has fiber T1s to Boston, Connecticut, and Washington through Transpoint Communications, located a few blocks from Rockefeller Center.

Justify Fiber

"We have a large amount of traffic to those locations and we can justify the economics of fiber right into those specific cities," says fontenot.

On the local loop, it uses Teleport Communications and New York Telephone. Teleport provides fiber access to AT&T, while New York Tel gives access to the local network and a fiber link to Transpoint.

RGT uses adaptive differential pulse code modulation to get the most out of its local link to Transpoint. ADPCM done with Tellabs equipment compresses a DS0 circuit to 32kb/s, so instead of 24 channels on a T1, they get 48. One T1 does the work of two.

"We have those private line T1s to Connecticut and to Washington, emanating from Transpoint. But to get there, we would normally have to put in two separate T1 circuits," explains Frank Cerbone of RGT. "What we do with the bit compression equipment is save the cost of one T1 by breaking the channel further down. This brings cost-effectiveness to us and our customers."

The ADPCM equipment cost was paid back within four or five months with the roughtly $1000 a month T1 savings.

RGT continues to market its services to tenants. Many big-name occupants of the upscale real estate operate their own system either by choice or because they invested in those systems before RGT came along. But they still use some RGT services.

"As our firm grows we will continue to extend our network," says fontenot. "We are never going to rival firms like MCI or AT&T. This is a small operation.

"Even small is an over-statement when you compare yourself to them.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:telecommunications
Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1990
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