By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
American Telecom Services (ATS) announced late last month that Office Depot will carry its multi-handset cordless phone bundled with prepaid long distance minutes.
The Pay N' Talk ATS Multi-Handset Cordless phone features a dedicated button to activate and manage a prepaid account. The long distance is provided by Newark, NJ.-based IDT.
Office Depot will sell a four-pack of 2.4GHz phones for a suggested $89.99, which will come down to $19.99 after service-activation rebates.
According to American Telecom Services CEO Bruce Hahn, ATS offers a hardware margin and a residual revenue stream for the life of a subscription — 10 percent of service revenue for the first year and 5 percent every year thereafter.
In addition to phones pre-bundled with landline long distance, the company offers a line of Digital Clear VoIP phones programmed to work on SunRocket's VoIP service. Those models are currently selling through Amazon.com and on Target and Sears Web sites. The line will ultimately find its way to brick-and-mortar dealers soon, Hahn added.
While the company has been expanding its Pay 'N Talk IDT-linked phones through mass merchant drugstore chains like CVS and Eckerd, it will push its Digital Clear VoIP phones through office superstores initially, Hahn said. "We think VoIP is a good fit for the small business owner."
ATS only sells phones tethered to a pre-paid long distance or VoIP service plan. Previous efforts to link a residential phone and service in a single box floundered because low-cost calling plans had been married to higher-cost phones, sending a mixed signal to the customer, said Adam Somer, communications services president, ATS.
"We've matched the phone and the service and are keying in on a value message," Hahn said.
Retailers propelled the wireless industry so there is a good synergy between selling communications hardware and related services, Hahn added.
The company currently offers VoIP in 2.4GHz but will roll out DECT-based phones soon. The company plans to transition all of its products to the DECT 6.0 technology shortly and release an expanded hardware line at International CES.
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