Florida's telecommunications providers are scrambling to meet demand.
StarBoxes serve as a traffic cop for all phones in the office with internet connections.
Norman Worthington was semi-retired when a former employee approached him with a little box that led to the creation of Star2Star Communications' phone system, which uses voice over internet protocol. He was skeptical at first but willing to push ahead with what became his eighth tech startup and a national business phone company.
Worthington and company President Joseph Rhem did their research and development in a garage in 2004 and two years later started shipping. The StarBox, which comes in several sizes, "acts as a traffic cop for all phones in the office with internet connections," says spokesman Les Freed. The box is at the client's site, and Star2Star maintains two data centers.
Customers for the server and hardware package range from call centers for restaurant chains with hundreds of extensions to mom-and-pop stores across North America. "We're able to take all of those disparate phone bills and put them into one and give the administrators of that system one bill and one system to administer," says Worthington, CEO of the company that's grown 250% to 300% a year. The company has 10,000 to 12,000 phone systems connecting about 100,000 phones.
Wireless, low-cost technology at high speeds and an ability to deliver high-quality voice to business customers are "driving a dramatic shift in the entire industry," Worthington says. "It's so exciting. We really feel like we're changing the face of the business world."