July 25, 2016

Probably the most frequent reaction I get when I first tell someone that I’m with Inteliquent is, unfortunately, “Inteliquent? I’ve never heard of them. What do they do?” This happens often enough that it has kind of become its own catchphrase–the “Inteli-who?” phenomenon. As the CMO of this company, I can assure you: this is not the reaction I’m looking for.

In today’s world of incubators, accelerators, startups and Techstars, there are a lot of new companies out there. But Inteliquent is well beyond that. We’ve been in business for 15 years; we’re traded on the NASDAQ; we’re a key supplier to every major wireless, wireline, VoIP and cable company in the country; we have a market cap of over $650M; and our traffic volume is rapidly approaching 20 billion minutes per month. And yet, I still get the blank stare – even from industry veterans who’ve been in this business for a long time.

Why is that?

The company first started doing business in 2001 as Neutral Tandem. That name reflected both the service we offered as well as a perspective on how we meant to do business. Tandem described our core function as an interconnection service provider that offered wireless carriers, CLECs, VoIP companies and cable MSOs a new means of exchanging traffic with each other. Neutral said more about how we intended to do business: to provide these companies with a “safe harbor,” via the first-of-its-kind, independent tandem backbone network. Neutral Tandem may not have been the most glitzy name, but it reflected a core belief that doing one thing well was more important than anything else.

As we grew, we continued to innovate – both the services we offered and the way we did business. As we added functionality, reliability, scalability, performance, we also stressed an unrelenting commitment to meeting our customer’s needs. The telecommunications business isn’t just about the networks, it’s about the people who build and operate them. We worked hard at being easy to do business with. It may be a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

The growing number of customers who joined with us certainly knew who we were. As they tried us out, they recognized the value of our services and appreciated how different we were from other telecom companies. Nobody loves their telco, but that’s exactly what we heard from our customers – informally, and in structured survey results. We were on to something unique.

We expanded into the data services arena via the acquisition, in 2010, of global IP Transit and wholesale Ethernet provider Tinet. To better reflect our evolution beyond tandem switching and our customer’s growing need for an “intelligent” network to help them meet the increasingly complex challenges of service delivery and interoperability, Neutral Tandem and Tinet became Inteliquent in 2012. We did issue a press release, then promptly went back to work meeting customer’s needs. 

We’ve expanded to 190 markets; built the largest Tandem and SIP routing network in the US; serve 7 of the top 8 wireless carriers, all of the top 6 cable companies, and 9 of the top 10 wireline carriers; and we expanded our monthly voice minute-of-use volume by almost 75%, all while delivering the highest quality in the industry. We later concluded that we could best serve our customers by maintaining a focus on the core voice interconnection business and, as a result, we spun off the data services business to global cloud provider GTT in 2013.

But we aren’t resting on our laurels. We continue to find more innovative and effective ways to integrate all types of communications services. As Next Gen and OTT companies deliver voice and messaging services to their customers, we’ve extended our “communications ecosystem” to meet their needs. Our PSTN-in-a-box capability allows these providers to bring their innovations to life across multiple platforms and speeds their time to market at the same time.

So why do I still get “Inteli-who?”

There’s a fine line between shying away from shameless self-promotion and unnecessarily concealing your abilities, and maybe we have simply done too much of the latter by trying to avoid the former. But the fact is, I want people to know who we are. I want people to know what we have to offer, how we can help them solve their problems, and how we’re a different kind of company than maybe they’re used to dealing with.

So you’ll be hearing more from us. We like to say that we’re “big enough to matter, and small enough to care.” If you already work with us, you know what that’s like. And if you don’t, you should find out what you’re missing. 

That way, if you and I happen to meet, at least I won’t have to worry about getting the blank stare!


John is responsible for all things branded here at Inteliquent. He spends enough time in Chicago to be considered a native, but lives in Denver with his family where he enjoys mountain biking and hiking.


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