Affordable Message Center is introducing Simplicity One today, a prepaid one-number service that offers users protection from over-calls on their cellular phone bill.
“You are protecting your cellular number,” explained Alexander Ott, president of Next Century Communications Inc., AMC’s parent. “No other (one-number) service does that.”
Call routing, which is the fundamental feature of one-number or follow-me services, can lead to an onslaught of calls to a subscriber’s mobile phone, especially if the user spends much time away from home or the office. The minutes and dollars add up quickly, explained AMC. To resolve this issue, Simplicity One users pay in advance for minutes, much like prepaid cellular service. Once the account is depleted, users can restore a balance or have incoming calls routed to an operator-based messaging service.
The debit-based service is exciting for resellers, as well, because resellers pay carriers for airtime and services even when their end user customers fail to pay, Ott said. “There is no (one-number) product for a reseller to sell. We are competing directly with MCI [Communications Corp.’s],” MCI One and networkMCI One services. MCI’s services are marketed more heavily to business customers who can afford over-calls, while AMC’s service is tailored toward individual users who may be following a budget, he added.
“This has been two years in the making,” said Ott. “We had to create our own infrastructure and software package in order to facilitate billing these services.” The switch used by AMC was developed by a third party, said Ott.
Islandia, N.Y.-based AMC resells airtime for alphanumeric paging services to other resellers and provides operator-dispatch services to a host of resellers and carriers. Simplicity One is AMC’s first switch-based service. Ott, who is the brains behind AMC’s technology, said the market can expect to see other new telecom services from AMC and Next Century.
Simplicity One will be marketed to AMC’s current and prospective reseller clients, who in turn will sell service to end users. AMC is creating Simplicity One advertisements and marketing collateral and providing co-op information to resellers.
There are three levels of Simplicity One service. Simplicity One Basic allows a subscriber’s callers to send numeric or alphanumeric pages and leave voice-mail messages through the user’s personal toll-free number. Simplicity One Direct offers the same functions, plus direct connection to the user’s home or business line. Simplicity One Business Direct option allows direct connection to the user’s wireless phone as well.
Users who do not answer any of their telephone extensions can have messages routed by an operator to their alphanumeric pager. Simplicity One offers alphanumeric pager notification when a voice-mail message has been recorded.
Initially, users of the service will need an alphanumeric pager. Eventually, numeric paging users will gain access to Simplicity One service, as well.
The three packages will not be priced differently. AMC designed the various plans expecting some customers do not want calls routed to certain extensions, like home. Simplicity One service will be sold in increments of 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes, priced wholesale to resellers at $10, $17, $25 and $30. Additional minutes can be added for $3 per 10-minute block. Suggested retail pricing is $15, $25, $30 and $35, respectively.
There are no set-up or activation charges associated with Simplicity One, said David Honig, director of sales and marketing for Next Century and AMC.
Once the Simplicity One program gains speed, AMC will market it to all wireless providers, said Honig. “There are lot of avenues. This product will tie into Internet and e-mail services as well.”
Resellers can sign on new Simplicity One customers through AMC’s online service by selecting the level of service from a menu, entering the user’s pager number, direct connection numbers and time balance of the account. The data will load onto AMC’s switch and almost immediately the user is set up.