Telespace, Inc.

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Telecommunications Business Plan

Market Analysis Summary

Dun and Bradstreet estimates that 1999 sales of the U.S. telecommunications market will be over $150 billion, of which the personal communications and unified messaging market is three percent, or $4 billion. If the company can achieve a one percent market share within three years, its sales would be $40 million in a market growing eight percent per year. These estimates are conservative, given the accelerating growth rate of telecommunications and unified messaging in particular. There is ample space for the company, and many competitors, in this huge and fast-growing marketplace.

4.1 Market Segmentation

TeleSpace has targeted five primary market segments:

  1. General consumer and business market.
  2. Sports Mom toll-free.
  3. Domestic Traveler/Calling Card.
  4. International Traveler.
  5. Military.
Market Analysis
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Potential Customers Growth CAGR
MyLine General 6% 150 159 169 179 190 6.09%
Sports Mom/Toll Free 9% 12 13 14 15 16 7.46%
Domestic Traveler/Calling Card 12% 60 67 75 84 94 11.88%
International Traveler 2% 1 1 1 1 1 0.00%
Military 0% 1 1 1 1 1 -8.07%
Total 7.71% 224 241 260 280 302 7.71%

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

The company will market its products to customer segments that require the basic mobile telecommunication services (such as voice messaging, fax, and email) in a single solution. Other features will be specific to each customer segment. The company will spend substantial marketing efforts in determining which set of features are the most attractive to each customer segment. Offering customized quality product to each customer segment at a competitive price level will be one of the marketing goals of TeleSpace.

4.2.1 Market Needs

All customer segments that we target seek reliable communications that are easy to use. However, feature preferences vary in between the segments. 'Soccer moms' that spend so much time driving their kids around are in need of an 'always on' accessibility. A permanent 800 number is what they covet.  Business travelers, on the other hand, have a strong need for a universal communications portal that will take care of all their communication needs. In this respect, TeleSpace will specifically tailor its market offering to each customer segment.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

TeleSpace is part of the telecommunications industry, including the following sub-industries:

  • National and international carriers (AT&T) which dominate the long distance market and offer unified messaging system (UMS) to their customers.
  • Regional operating companies (Pacific Bell, GTE) which provide local service and switch long distance traffic to the carriers and CLECs. They also offer UMS to their customers.
  • Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) provide both local and long distance service and market UMS to their customers.
  • Resellers aggregate traffic and provide discount long distance service and UMS to their customers.
  • Unified messaging and personal communications service providers with in-house switching capability, such as TeleSpace, that offer MyLine and similar services to all consumers and businesses.

4.3.1 Business Participants

The personal telecommunications and unified messaging system sub-industry of the overall telecommunications market is a new, technology-driven, and immature industry characterized by a high growth rate, low barriers to entry, several large, and many small, competitors. The industry evolved during the last ten years as a spin-off the the telecommunications de-regulation, and subsequent explosion in competition and technological innovation. Overall industry sales should continue to accelerate for at least the next three years as consumers learn they can have their own unique local and 800 phone numbers for anyone to find them anytime, anywhere. Several industry leaders have emerged including:

  • AT&T: The overall industry leader is expanding both vertically and horizontally into new markets and technologies and will probably have an impressive UMS.
  • Excel Communications, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Teleglobe, Inc., a large public telecommunications company. Excel is aggressively marketing its UMS.
  • Linx Communications, Inc.is a leading national communications service provider which recently received venture capital financing. See Competitors, Section 4.3.3.
  • Nextel Communications, Inc. is a large public company providing digital and analog wireless communications services throughout the U. S. See Competitors, Section 4.3.3.
  • Sprint PCS offers a wide variety of UMS services marketed primarily to its long distance customers.
  • Voice Mobility, Inc. is a public company offering UMS for CLECs, wireless and other communication providers. They offer a MyLine clone to providers who re-market to their consumers.

There are numerous small competitors, the primary of which are described in the competitor section.

4.3.2 Competition and Buying Patterns

The primary buying factors in personal telecommunication systems are price, accessibility, and ease of use. There is significant brand loyalty based on the company's experience with its current customer base. Once an individual has acclimated to the MyLine system and memorized the access routine, he tends to be reluctant to switch to another service. Very much the same attitude prevails in consumer long distance, where demonstrable savings fail to sway a large segment of the population to switch carriers. AT&T still has over 60% of the market even though they are the highest cost carrier in a commodity business. Powerful branding and advertising, even with premium pricing, will create a significant barrier to competitors taking our customers. Being the market leader, like AT&T, will strengthen the company's branding position and also make it more difficult for the competition.

Management feels the primary competition will be other well-branded companies like Nextel and Linx Communications, which have deep advertising pockets, feature-rich and competitive services, and an established brand. All the major telecommunications companies, including the Baby Bells, are moving into UMS because they have the infrastructure to support it and the brand to promote it. They will have the initial advantage in branding and marketing muscle, but their services to date are inferior. The marketplace is big enough to support all this competition and then some.

4.3.3 Main Competitors

Our main competitors include both telecommunications and unified messaging companies, most of whom have deep financial pockets, and all of whom appear to be competent at packaging and marketing their products. They are shown below with brief descriptions of the company and product(s):

  • Webley Systems offers a UMS called the personal assistant, which Small Business Computing and Communications Magazine has rated the most sophisticated product they have rated. The personal assistant provides subscribers with a phone number where you can leave faxes and voice messages. Messages may be accessed either through a password-protected website or by phone, where you can listen to voice mail or have email or fax headers read. It also supports fax forwarding and broadcasting and offers an effective voice recognition engine to navigate through menu choices. The assistant will notify you by pager when new messages arrive and can also screen and selectively forward calls to any phone number you designate. You can also load your contact list into the assistant and have it place calls for you while on the road, including conference calls. However, the assistant only supports one email account at a time.
  • StarTouch International, Ltd. entered the UMS arena in July, 1996 with its Electronic Secretarial Administrator (ESA). ESA offers a switch-based service including call answering, forwarding, voice mail, fax, broadcasting, and conference calling. The company claims to be debt-free and to own their own switch. Overall, ESA is impressive and competitive, though sign-up is difficult and rates confusing.
  • Nextel Communications, Inc. is a large public company offering a digital, nationwide service competing with other cellular service providers such as GTE, Cellular One and AT&T. Nextel operates on radio taxi frequencies, and their system is based on radio "walkie talkie" style communications for short-range communications. The service is thus tied to the range of their wireless transmission system. Within that range they do offer many features including caller ID, paging, voice mail, call waiting and forwarding, and conference calling. Nextel offers a national system within their transmission range with unlimited long distance. For example, a national account with 1,000 minutes costs $135/month with an additional $.10 per minute for call forwarding.
  • Linx Communications, Inc. offers a Web-based unified communications platform called LinxWeb, a personal Web portal that manages personal daily communications including phone calls from any landline or mobile phone, messages, pages, and faxes. LinxWeb is very similar to MyLine. Linx has teamed with Focal Communications to co-locate their switches in Focal facilities across the U.S.
  • JFAX.COM unified messaging provides a single phone number in one of 60 cities world-wide allowing faxes, emails, and phone calls to be managed via your email account. The system is accessible via phone but best accessed through computer.