BroadSoft is a global communications software and service provider. The company licenses its platform, which includes voice, video, IM/chat, and business phone system features, to over 500 enterprise customers, many of which are business VoIP providers.
BroadSoft typically runs on the "back end" of a VoIP service. It's the engine underneath the car hood. Service providers use BroadSoft offerings (BroadWorks and BroadCloud) to build enterprise phone systems that can integrate billing, provisioning, operations, and support.
Service providers that use platforms like BroadSoft are essentially putting their own brand on top of the same underlying technology. As such, they are reliant on Broadsoft to maintain the software and hardware that keeps your VoIP service running.
While licensing Broadsoft may be beneficial for a VoIP provider, it can cost you as the end consumer. Here are three ways using a Broadsoft VoIP service can affect your business phone system.
1. Service issues take longer to resolve
Service providers that use BroadSoft cede control and quality of service to the third party platform. Key issues that would normally fall under purview of the service provider, such as updates, maintenance, and uptime, are handled by BroadSoft.
Adding another layer to your business phone service ultimately makes miscommunications, errors, and hardware failures all the more difficult to resolve, because the source of a problem can come from more places:
- Your network configuration
- Your internet service provider (ISP)
- Your business VoIP provider
First, the VoIP provider must try and assess which part of your phone service is failing. Since there are more parts involved, it can take longer to identify, isolate, and solve the issue. Second, if the issue is with Broadsoft, there is very little your business VoIP provider can do to help speed up the resolution. Since they have no control over the third party platform, they can only pass on what they know. For you, this can translate into lost time and productivity.
That's why BroadSoft providers that guarantee a certain uptime percentage might give figures that are overly optimistic. The real number needs to take into consideration the probability that at least one - or both - of the services will be down at any given time.
2. Your feature set is defined by BroadSoft
The Essentials by Harvard Business Review links company innovation to customer retention. It's no secret that customers like new, incisive features that meet their needs. But service providers that use BroadSoft are limited by the features of the third party platform. These service providers don't have the autonomy to innovate in reaction to customer demand.
With hundreds of customers, BroadSoft can't engineer new features at the whim of any individual provider, much less any business that uses that provider. That's why service providers that use BroadSoft sometimes fail to meet emerging market demands. They're beholden to another company.
As an individual customer, you're essentially losing leverage when you use a service that implements a third party platform. Your input matters less, and all of it is refracted through the service provider.
3. You're paying the licensing fees
With any business expense, the costs of running a service are ultimately passed on to the consumer. The licensing fees that VoIP providers pay to use BroadSoft raise the price of their service. Additionally, there are costs outside of the licensing fees, such as training, interoperability, operations, and other behind the scenes technical and personnel issues that require significant capital investments to implement.
Many providers also buy up extra licenses to feed demand. For instance, a provider could purchase 20,000 user licenses from BroadSoft, but only have 12,500 active seats. That means the provider is paying for those empty seats, and passing the cost onto you.
TMC blogger Peter Radizeski makes a good point about BroadSoft's saturation problem:
Broadsoft already boasts over 400 providers and Metasswitch has most of the rest, [so] there won't be many more softswitches sold. That means that most (if not all) of Broadsoft's future revenue will need to come from licensing and maintenance. Being public, [BroadSoft] will eventually have to raise the costs of maintenance to service providers to continue to fund research, fixes, etc. (Factor in consolidation and going out of business sales and that means even less sales.) Broadsoft may be the next Nortel. It certainly looks like Coppercom.
As Peter notes, BroadSoft will likely grow its revenue from raising existing fees, rather than acquiring new customers. These fees will rise, and eventually get passed on to your phone bill.
VoIP Platforms: Proprietary or Third Party?
A considerable percentage of the business VoIP market relies on BroadSoft. This is generally an unknown fact when you're shopping around, because service providers do not conspicuously advertise their affiliations with BroadSoft. In reality, many business VoIP providers are offering the same service under different marquees.
So how do you find out if a provider uses BroadSoft? Searching for a company name + BroadSoft should give you some hits if the relationship exists. Even if company doesn't mention BroadSoft, you can usually find a press release or document that references the partnership. A few popular providers that use BroadSoft include Nextiva, AT&T, Comcast, Vonage, CenturyLink, and VoIP Logic, to name a few.
Of course, there are upsides to using a BroadSoft-based service. BroadSoft allows companies to outsource the backend communications platform, which frees up more time, resources, and personnel. This gives a provider more power to focus on customer service, front end development, and tech support. BroadSoft also offers a competitive portfolio of business VoIP and UC features, as well as popular software integrations.
When you're considering cloud phone systems, it's likely you'll find a provider that licenses Broadsoft or another third party platform. We hope that this blog provides some information on what this relationship entails so that you can make a more informed decision about your business phone service.