13 Dec 2017 | 10.34 am
Interview: Shena Brien, IP Telecom
Internet telephony is going mainstream
13 Dec 2017 | 10.34 am
When Shena Brien was going to school in Carlow, the computer resource extended to one Apple II, and to learn the basics of computer programming she attended classes in her own time at weekends. Brien’s initial plan was to enrol for a computer science degree in Carlow IT, before opting instead for engineering, “because working with a soldering iron sounded like a lot more fun”.
In an arena mostly dominated by men, Brien (pictured) has more than earned her spurs. Last October she was appointed chief executive of IP Telecom, a west Dublin SME that is riding the internet telephony wave. As workplaces become much more plug and play and fibre broadband extends its reach, IP telephony has gone mainstream, and Brien’s company plans to hire an additional 20 staff to take advantage of the opportunity.
Brien started her career managing the network at Timas, an Aer Lingus subsidiary, and then went to England to gain more experience. After being made redundant 2001, she set up as a consultant, a go-between and jargon translator between SMEs and telcos.
“I had observed a common list of issues spanning all telecoms providers, from not listening to customers’ requirements to providing inferior support and bad value for money,” she recalls. “Of course, I knew I could do it better. This proved to be so successful it landed me a full-time job with Leap Broadband which was then acquired by Magnet, where I met Brian Chamberlain. He persuaded me that the future was VoIP and we started IP Telecom.”
Brian Chamberlain owns 50% of the shares in Internet Protocol Telecom Ltd and Brien speaks for 35%. The other 15% is owned by Anthony Tattan (pictured below with Brien), who the two founders reached out to in 2013. “Anthony had an outsource lead generation company and we were wowed by his enthusiasm. His passion for our business was addictive and since he joined as commercial director our sales have grown significantly year-on-year. We are all experts in our respective fields. This had an obvious advantage of saving us costs in the early days and allowed us to hit the ground running, which has proved to be the cornerstone of our success.”
Installing office phone systems used to be a big deal, what with the PBX and wires having to run from a switch to every extension. With internet phones, the handset plugs into the same internet connection as the desktop PC. After IP Telecom ships internet-ready phones to new customers, the company can setup everything remotely, with the same routine process required for 10 or 1,000 users.
For IP Telecom’s 2,000 customers, the company is effectively their new telco, and customers are billed monthly for their phone calls. As the calls are all made on the internet, the cost is a lot cheaper that traditional fixed wire calls, and line rental doesn’t exist. IP Telecom’s major capital cost is the internet back-end. In the past year the company has added a second Point of Presence in the BT Data Centre in Dublin. A second investment was interconnecting with OpenEir, the largest wholesale carrier in the country, which will enable IP Telecom to launch a broadband service too.
“It has always been our core business to drive down costs for customers while enabling them to use the latest technologies,” says Brien. “With the interconnect we plan to launch new products that we believe will be a game changer for business telephony solutions.”
Ahead of a move into a 4,000 square foot own-door office in Park West Business Park next year, Brien concedes that staff recruitment is a challenge. “I am particularly interested in working with colleges and universities to source recent graduates,” says Brien. For our senior members of staff, we offer the challenge of assisting in the development of our solutions end-to-end. In this way we feel we can compete with the larger companies vying for the same talent pool.”