Sykes reappears in telco channel

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Former Request Broadband boss Phil Sykes has resurfaced as chief of a new channel company delivering IP-based managed services, dubbed IProvide.

Former Request Broadband boss Phil Sykes has resurfaced as chief of a new channel company delivering IP-based managed services, dubbed IProvide.

Sykes told CRN that IProvide would operate as a channel initiative of telecommunications provider AAPT, which wanted to use the channel to target SMBs with sophisticated voice-and-data services.

"I built up a business plan at the beginning of the year, and spoke to a number of potential parties," he said. "AAPT showed a great deal of interest and then we went into negotiations."

Sykes developed the idea for IProvide, along with co-founders Gary McLaren and Kim Wingerei, from about the middle of last year.

 Sykes resigned from Request Broadband a year ago, citing reasons resulting from the company's acquisition by PowerTel in March 2004.

He said at the time that he had been offered a chief operating officer role at the merged company but had declined the position, which was "a significant reduction in scope".

Sykes said IProvide was a company in its own right but exclusively contracted to AAPT. It would provide AAPT's IP-based services including VoIP and VPN to SMBs.

"I think most larger carriers have had trouble bringing together their services for SMBs, particularly on a large scale," he said.

AAPT had previously had an alliance program that primarily took voice services out to customers or "very small" businesses. It hadn't "really" had a channel that could take their complex products to SMBs, he said.

"What AAPT gets out of it is a ready-made business strategy with a team of people who have done this before," Sykes said.

It wasn't like outsourcing, which Sykes said was "an emotive word", because they would be working closely and exclusively with AAPT.

"So it's not as if we're a bunch of people in another building who they throw things over the wall at," Sykes said.

System integrators and others had in the last year begun to build VoIP offerings to deliver to customers. IProvide aimed to give them a "lower risk" way to get into a now-burgeoning SMB market for VoIP, Sykes said.

John Stretch, chief executive at AAPT, said SMBs had different requirements than large corporates.

"No one has been willing to address these differences with solutions and services that make sense for them," Stretch claimed.

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