Verizon Introduces New One-Stop Web Portal for Small Businesses Across America

NEW YORK - The newly redesigned Verizon Small Business Center Web site - which now features powerful online collaboration tools, advanced Web-based business software applications and interactive professional networking - is open to serve small businesses across America, at www.business.verizon.net.

"Small businesses need a lot more than e-mail and Internet access to be competitive, especially in today's challenging economy," said Monte Beck, Verizon's vice president for small-business products and services. "We built the Verizon Small Business Center to offer small businesses leading-edge technology tools and business resources to assist them in becoming more agile, productive and efficient - all appropriately scaled for the needs and budget requirements of a small business, and all conveniently integrated on a single Web portal.

"What we've created with the new Verizon Small Business Center is similar to what an information technology department would build for a large corporation, but at a fraction of the price," said Beck.

[Note: For an online video tour of the center, visit http://www22.business.verizon.net/sitetour/smb_teasertour.html]

The centerpiece of the new business portal is the Verizon Collaboration Center, powered by Cisco WebEx technology, with voice and Web conferencing that enables users to collaborate with peers, clients and vendors in a virtual environment that works like an Intranet. Licensed users can share documents and calendars, discuss ideas, set goals, and manage projects and business operations. With the Verizon Web Meeting add-on, users can meet online - in real time - with co-workers, partners, suppliers and customers.

"With the Verizon Collaboration Center, small businesses can embrace today's most innovative collaboration technologies to solve problems collectively, accelerate decisions, increase productivity and create customer value," said Subrah S. Iyar, chief strategy officer, collaboration software group, Cisco. "Since this is all done online, travel costs are reduced and operating efficiency is increased."

The Verizon Collaboration Center is a hosted service available anytime there is Internet access. It does not require any hardware or software investment. There is also no need for in-house IT support, which helps small businesses save even more. Since the service is Web-based, all that is required is a computer (PC or Mac), an Internet connection and a Web browser. A Verizon Collaboration Center user pack for one to five employees costs $24.99 per month, with other discounted rates available when even more users are added.

"The small-business sector is a very important segment of Verizon's customer base," said Beck. "We have, and will continue to develop, more business tools - like the Verizon Small Business Center - for the small-business marketplace."

Small-business expert Steve Hilton, vice president at Yankee Group, said, "If you look to the future of small business, you see communications technologies playing an increasingly important role in the day-to-day operations of an efficient, well-run enterprise. Verizon is making a strong move to arm small businesses with more of the technology tools they need to thrive by providing a convenient, centralized online portal."

One-Stop Portal Designed Especially For Small Businesses

The Verizon Small Business Center offers an intuitive layout, allowing users to navigate quickly to the business tools and information they need to perform daily tasks. For example, under the "My Applications tab," e-mails and calendar items are neatly displayed and easy to access and monitor.

New features such as "Professional Networking" allow registered users who create a profile to exchange ideas with others in their industry, build relationships and improve their online networking presence in this community.

The Verizon Solution Recommender, located under the "Marketplace" tab, helps business owners navigate all the business products and services Verizon offers. Verizon's small- and medium-sized business customers can also enjoy savings on FedEx shipping rates and credit card processing services through the site's Alliance Discount Program. Verizon continually leverages its buying power to bring these customers useful products at competitive prices.

A set of simple questions helps users of the Web site gauge what products and services are needed to start, grow or improve their business. Users can also order value-added services such as the Verizon Internet Security Suite, wireless phones and calling plans, wireline phone plans and high-speed Internet service.

The expanded "My News & Resources" section highlights business news from The New York Times that is relevant to small businesses, and provides expert advice from AllBusiness.com and influential technology, government, regulatory and small-business bloggers. Users can personalize this page by choosing from among more than a dozen content categories to best suit users' interests and needs.

Verizon offers a broad range of products and services for businesses of all sizes. Some businesses may qualify to enroll in the Verizon Business Link Rewards program, which enables companies to earn and redeem points for various items such as gift cards and certificates at leading retailers, meals at top-rated local restaurants, and tickets to professional sporting and entertainment events.

Over the next few months, the Verizon Small Business Center will offer informative free webinars every other week. The first webinar takes place April 21 with Shankar Iyer, senior director of business communities for Cisco Systems, who will discuss how small businesses can maximize the use of new technology to accelerate business processes, which can help to cut costs and lead to greater efficiencies. For more information on this free webinar, click here.

For more information on Verizon's products and services for businesses, visit www.verizon.com.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 80 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 224,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.