From the March 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Installing a second phone line in a small office can be a huge hassle. First, there's the price: It costs close to $1,500 to buy a new desktop station and add wiring. There's also the loss of mobility: You traditionally can't connect a cordless phone to multiline Centrex systems and thus remain tethered to your desk. For some lucky entrepreneurs, things are changing.

Siemens CommunicationDevices in Richardson, Texas, markets a cordless, multiuser phone system that enables entrepreneurs to wander around their offices with a cordless handset, leaving them free to oversee employee progress and remain available for customer calls. What's more, up to eight employees, using cordless handsets with their own extension numbers, can make calls on the wireless system.

Priced at $399, the Gigaset 2420 package includes one cordless handset and desk station. The system boasts such features as paging, speakerphone, caller ID and a caller directory. Additional handsets cost $125. The product is sold through the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog and retail stores in Beverly Hills, California; Chicago; and New York City.


Gene Koprowski has covered the tech industry for 10 years and writes a monthly computing column for "The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition." Contact him at 74203.1677@compuserve.com

On Hold?

Your business is on the fast track, but is your phone system?

If your business recently hit the fast lane, one thing probably hasn't kept pace: your office telephone system. Entrepreneurs don't always upgrade their systems, says Michael Centrella, founder of Merlot Communications Inc. The Bethel, Connecticut, consulting company recently completed an 18-month study of entrepreneurs' phone systems. Here are some findings:

  • Small businesses with systems older than 5 years often don't have features consumers expect such as voice mail and hold music.
  • Small businesses often order extra lines, rather than figure out how to get maximum efficiency from their systems.
  • Entrepreneurs would benefit from an audit of their phones, faxes and PCs.

Speedy Delivery

Getting advanced digital access.

You've historically been at the mercy of your phone company when asking for advanced, digital services. Either your carrier had high-speed, digital lines in your neighborhood or it didn't. To worsen matters, there was nothing you could do--new phone companies couldn't afford the cost of laying fiber optic cables in every city neighborhood to service a smattering of small or homebased businesses.

But guess what? Smaller phone companies are starting to offer high-speed, digital subscriber line (DSL) technology to entrepreneurs. One firm, New York City Transwire Communications, offers the service to East Coast small businesses and is planning a national expansion.

Using an 1MB modem, the company provides outgoing and incoming telecommunications services at 17 times the speed of the 56K analog modem, Transwire's Dennis Kruse says. Currently, 200 companies have signed up for the service, according to Kruse.

The package costs $199 per month and includes a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week online connection, an e-mail address and other telecommunications services.

Contact Sources

Siemens Communications Devices, (972) 997-7300, http://www.siemenscordless.com

Transwire Communications, Schwartz Co., 230 Third Ave., Waltham, MA 02154