Yes to fixed line

At this year’s Northern Convergence Summit, the key theme for the mobile channel was how to get into fixed line telephony. In a major seminar at the show, industry luminaries from Opal Telecom, Vanilla IP and Servassure stated their cases on why mobile dealers should consider taking on fixed line.

Andy Hollingworth, head of Opal’s reseller channel, stated that the company has done a lot of thinking on why and mobile dealers should get into the fixed line world. He stated: “Things are tough right now. The key thing you should be doing is offering more value to your existing customers. For mobile dealers, this gives you something else to add to your portfolio, at a time when changes to operator commission structures are hitting; the last thing a mobile person wants is a cash impact to their business.”

As to why mobile dealers should not just wait for mobile carriers to launch into the broadband market, as many currently are attempting to do, Hollingworth said: “We are a thorn in the side of mobile operators that are trying to get into broadband. Dealers have been pissed off enough by carriers, however. We’re trying to unbundle the complexity of fixed line for dealers.”

Dave Dadds, managing director at Vanilla IP, added that there is a learning curve that must be scaled by mobile dealers that wish to make the move into fixed line, including for hosted VoIP. He explained: “There is definitely a learning curve there if you haven’t sold PABX before. You need to give it real focus and commitment, and give it to someone in your business to champion. If you do that, the figures are there at the end of the day to make it worthwhile.”

Dadds continued: “This is going to be a challenge, but it is doable. Before if you wanted to move into PABX it was a huge move, but what I’ll think you’ll see, especially as revenues are being pushed, is that this is a natural step through, and a logical move for the customer to buy hosted telephony from their mobile reseller.”

“We’re trying to innovate here and move away form the traditional mindset on how hosted can be sold,” Dadds stated. “This is rental or pre pay, dealer-branded, with a self service portal for the reseller, and most importantly, the customer. You can take a WiFi-enabled Nokia handset, which will give you hosted PABX extension rates in the office, not mobile rates.”

Hollingworth touted Opal’s next generation network as a way for mobile dealers to be able to offer products and services over fixed line, at 50% less cost than BT. This will enable dealers to also offer value added services to customers, he said, while reducing BT’s market dominance.

He added: “You’ve only got to walk through a major office to see all the people using their mobiles. Using WiFi or SIP technology, customers using mobiles in the office can use them at fixed line rates. You can create true value and sell more products to your customers.”

Wilfred Wood, head of sales engineering at Samsung’s hosted communications division, added from the show floor: “Hosted VoIP is a good opportunity for mobile dealers. There are different levels of getting into it; you can just be a sales agent, get the contract signed off and get paid your commission plus monthly ongoing payments, and someone else will come in and take care of the rest. The old traditional PBX resellers out there that haven’t moved on with the times are stuck in a rut and are loosing sales to hosted VoIP.”