Cox Business Calls on The Cloud

Hosted IP Voice Service Carves Out New Revenue Stream for MSO Unit That Raked in $1.4 Billion in 2012

The business services unit of Cox Communications has opened up a new revenue stream with the launch of VoiceManager IP Centrex, a hosted, cloud-based IP phone platform.

Cox is hosting VoiceManager IP Centrex via its private network, a decision that provides “built-in business continuity to minimize the impact of natural disasters or malicious network attacks,” the company said. Tied in, all VoiceManager IP Centrex customers use Cisco Systems-made SPA Series IP phones outfitted with HD voice capabilities.

Cox is targeting its new hosted, PBX-style platform to small- and mid-sized businesses that don’t necessarily have the internal IT resources to install, support and manage such a product.

"IP Centrex is ideal for growing organizations that don't have the time to manage their phone system, but need secure, business-class capabilities," said Jeff Adelmann, vice president of product development and management of Cox Business, in a statement. "The cloud-based solution delivers the complexity of traditional PBX or key systems in a reliable, affordable voice system that can be managed remotely.”

The launch opens up another line of business for a Cox division that currently counts about 300,000 customers. The unit pulled in about $1.4 billion in revenues last year, a spokeswoman said. Phil Meeks, a former Cox Business exec who was recently hired to head up business services at Time Warner Cable, told attendees at a Light Reading event late last year that Cox Business Services had new products in the pipeline that will help to put it on track to eclipse $2 billion in annual revenues by 2016.

Some early takers of Cox's new product include Exnihilo, a Rhode Island-based professional services firm, and Providence Business News. 

Cox isn’t alone in identifying hosted voice as a business services growth driver and another way to steal away commercial customers from the telcos. Comcast, which is on pace to drive almost $3 billion in business services this year after posting revenues of $741 million in the category during the first quarter of 2013, launched a similar service last year called Business VoiceEdge.