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Genband name unfamiliar, but service not: Telecommunications company provides service to millions
Genband CEO Charlie Vogt takes part in the softball challenge at the second-annual Genband Day kickoff event. Photo courtesy of Genband.
Genband may not be a name many in the Frisco area are familiar with, but it's one Frisco residents should probably get used to. Despite its unfamiliar name, chances are anyone who's used a phone has used a Genband service at some point.
Charlie Vogt, Genband president and CEO, recognizes that people may be unfamiliar with the company's name.
"One of the biggest challenges we have is that we're looking at consumer-branded opportunities, but we make IP infrastructure, so the average consumer in Frisco and Texas doesn't recognize our name," Vogt said. "The products we're selling are 'enablers' for companies like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to deploy next-generation services -- so our audience isn't the end consumer, it's those companies."
While service providers may get the recognition, Genband's actually one of the companies that helps create new services for telecommunications around the world. Among the services Genband helps telephone service providers include visual voice messaging -- the ability to send video clips featuring voiceovers that can be sent in real-time -- and something the company named "call grabber."
"An example of call grabber would be transferring a call from a fixed line to a cell phone," Vogt said. "Say I'm on a conference call and my wife calls [that line], but I can't leave the conference call. Now I can hit [a code] and, without anybody knowing, have the call transferred from my fixed office line to my mobile line. We can do that with voice, data or video."
Much of the technology that telephone service providers use to create new features actually comes from Genband, Vogt said, even though the end-consumer would never know.
"There's a lot of things like [call grabber] where consumers don't realize we're the technology that's enabling a lot of those neat services," he said. "But it's the service provider that's ultimately delivering it, and we're providing the equipment that allows that to happen."
So just how many people have used Genband's infrastructure and technology when making a phone call or using a data network? A lot. Vogt estimates that at least 70 percent of all voice lines in North America go through the company's call routing and control services and infrastructure
"Whether it's through one of our old legacy TDM networks or a next-generation IP network, we have probably 70 percent of the old legacy switches and about 50 percent of the new IP switches, at least in North America," Vogt said. "So most of the consumers who are making voice calls are most likely utilizing our equipment to connect and enjoy our services that go along with voice and multimedia."
The telecommunications company moved its headquarters to Frisco in November 2010 -- it was previously headquartered in Plano since 2004, although the company was founded in Austin in 1999 -- and has made a major effort to become integrated in the community.
To immerse itself in the communities it operates in, including Frisco, the company is holding its second annual Genband Day on Friday. The event serves as an opportunity for the company to give back to the communities it operates in through volunteer activities. A kickoff for the event was held Tuesday at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.
"The event has a real local feel in each of our communities that keeps us grounded and keeps us feeling small, so we feel connected with the community," said Sean Huurman, chief people officer at Genband. "Events like this one are going on around the world throughout the week -- our employees are simply celebrating Genband Day by giving back in the communities we operate in."
Employees of Genband and their families will help clean up Oak Point Park, for instance, as well as other locations around the Frisco area. Similar activities will take place in other markets Genband operates in around the world, too. The company hopes to amass more than 10,000 charitable service hours through the event.
Genband Day started as a company holiday to celebrate the acquisition of Nortel's voice-over-IP division in 2010 -- a move that Vogt cites as key to the company's success. Last year, Vogt decided to make the holiday a way to give back to communities where Genband has operations.
"We just thought, 'wouldn't it be great if the day our employees took off got used as a day to give back to the community?'" Vogt said. "And if people were honest, they'd admit most people don't give back or invest in philanthropy-type work. But I think they'd realize that if they do, they'll find it's extremely rewarding. We challenged the company to help give to those organizations that are in need -- and this year, 70 percent of our employees are involved [in Genband Day activities]."
Much like Frisco itself, Genband has seen exponential growth since it was founded. The company finished 2011 with more than 2,500 team members and revenues exceeding $700 million. In its first few years, by comparison, the company had roughly 80 employees and hardly any revenues, Vogt said.
"I think the Genband story is very unique in that we saw most of our growth in a decade where most companies shrunk or went out of business," he said. "And I think a lot of it had to do with the insight that the management team and its investors had in trying to consolidate a market that had lots of growth prospects."
Frisco Mayor Maher Maso couldn't be happier to have the company located in his city.
"As a company, they're a natural fit [for Frisco]," Mayor Maso said. "It's been fun to watch them grow. They've found new ways to give back to the communities they're in -- they're a great example to use as we recruit other companies to the area."
For Vogt, the choice to base the company in Frisco wasn't a hard one.
"We're finding most of the location opportunities for companies that require significant amenities and facilities are better in Frisco area than anywhere else," he said. "We have [a total facility space of] over a million square feet around the world, but we get more compliments about our Frisco facility than anywhere else. I think it says a lot about the culture in Frisco. I think the community in itself is very growth-oriented, alive and new."