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Sprint Officially Unveils Workplace-as-a-Service

Sprint's big push into the enterprise officially starts Monday, as the carrier announced Workplace-as-a-Service (WPaaS), its fully managed service including WiFi, wireless, mobile device management (MDM) and unified communications (UC).

Light Reading first reported on WPaaS in early February, detailing the carrier's plans to bundle WiFi access points with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Lync UC service. That will be core to its new platform, which also includes WAN connectivity, managed WiFi, voice service, video conferencing, online collaboration, IM and presence, MDM and optional Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) wireless service. (See Sprint Plans WiFi + Lync Enterprise Bundle.)

Sprint is, of course, hoping enterprises will take it up on subscribing to its wireless service, and Mike Fitz, vice president of business solution commercialization with Sprint Business, says Sprint is offering discounted plans for those employees of WPaaS offices who do sign up -- $5 per month for 5GB of data on tablets and $40 per month for smartphones. It's able to do so because WiFi offload is a prominent part of the WPaaS offering, he explains, so these customers shouldn't be heavy cellular data users.

"When everything is on one provider, including wireless, you'll get the best experience possible from a customer care and SLA standpoint," Fitz says. Even if employees do not switch, however, Sprint -- through partner AirWatch LLC -- will provide MDM for all of the organization's devices.

Fitz said the service is ideal for small-and-midsized businesses that are opening a new remote office for 20 to 200 employees or looking to upgrade outdated technology. Sprint will bill for the service on a per-user, per-month basis. In its pre-sale phase, Fitz says Sprint has signed up customers in the double digits, including Knoll Inc. and SATO Global.

"We can transform how IT leaders buy their services -- one at a time from different vendors," Fitz says. "Now it's a single vendor, single bill, single point of contact, integrated SLAs and so forth."


Read more about WiFi strategies on the carrier WiFi channel here on Light Reading.

These are all services that Sprint has provided to the enterprise market for some time now, with the newest being managed WiFi, which it began offering in 2013 through a partnership with Ruckus Wireless Inc. . But this is the first time it's bringing it all together under one managed services platform and acting as everything from the systems integrator to the help desk. Fitz says the goal is to free up IT departments to focus on other initiatives rather than troubleshooting wireless services and to save them money by going all in.

"A lot of IT leaders today, as much as they are knee deep in managing it, they don't know what they are spending per employee," Fitz says. "We have good data that tells us what they're spending today and forms to help them figure it out. We think this can save them about 50% of what they spend today."

Fitz didn't go as far as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CFO John Stephens to say that Sprint would be an enterprise-focused company first and foremost, but the enterprise is clearly an important strategic market for the operator as it looks to regain its footing in the US market and win back customers it lost when it shut down Nextel. Fitz says WPaaS is all about WiFi, but small cells are also part of its larger enterprise strategy, as is supporting the Internet of Things. (See AT&T Sees Brightest Future in the Enterprise and Sprint Starts Big Enterprise Push With WiFi.)

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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sarahthomas1011 3/18/2015 | 2:38:22 PM
Re: smart business Yes, and now we can throw T-Mobile into the mix too. Uncarrier 9.0 was all about the SMB market: http://newsroom.t-mobile.com/news/uncarrier-for-business.htm
kq4ym 3/18/2015 | 11:19:11 AM
Re: smart business It may be interesting to see how Spring progresses compared to AT&T in this service business. And just how being a more specialized business may end up profitwise to the more generalized business plan.
sarahthomas1011 3/17/2015 | 12:06:47 PM
Re: Lets make $ out of thin air It's a bit more than a mobile app...that's why Sprint walks SMBs through all their finances, to determine the cost savings by bundling in this way, which it says will be sizable, but i'm sure vary by office.

I don't think you can fault the company for trying to "make money out of thin air." That thin air, the SMB market, is pretty attractive right now for just that reason: http://www.lightreading.com/nfv/nfv-tests-and-trials/might-sdn-and-nfv-help-telcos-crack-open-the-smb-market/a/d-id/714452?
VictorRBlake 3/16/2015 | 9:23:02 PM
Lets make $ out of thin air Let's design a service that an enterprise can run OTT as an app for example MDM with Airwatch) for free and charge $5 a month for it. Good for them if they can get away with it. Meanwhile, back in reality there are actual challenges that they could be working on like answering the phone when customers call for support (from Sprint).
MordyK 3/16/2015 | 1:58:57 PM
Re: smart business For a telco this may be a big deal, but for SaaS and other hosted solutions this is simply business as usual. The user-fee innovation is as old as Salesforce.com.
sarahthomas1011 3/16/2015 | 1:54:45 PM
Re: smart business Pay per person per month for small cell connectivity as well?
MordyK 3/16/2015 | 1:53:00 PM
Re: smart business The cellular coverage capability is easy to add. Its the change of business model opportunity that I find most intriguing
sarahthomas1011 3/16/2015 | 1:29:11 PM
Re: smart business Yeah, I definitely agree that small cells could/should be a part of WPaaS, especially since Sprint has coverage issues in some spots. That would be an easy fix and a value add. I know Sprint is planning small cells for the enterprise (although it seems somewhat delayed), but it's not part of this yet. Easily could be an add-on in the future though.
MordyK 3/16/2015 | 1:24:47 PM
Re: smart business I've long thought that a similar model would work well for indoor coverage such as DAS and small cells in the retail environment. Instead of paying for the right to deploy the indoor solution, it can be packaged as part of a complete IT and RF solution that also provides indoor coverage, which is something I believe the facility or business would be happy to pay for. 

In theory if third party carriers roamed on the network, the host carrier (Sprint) would be able to charge "rent" and - afetr the appropriate split - apply it as a credit to the overall service bill.
sarahthomas1011 3/16/2015 | 1:21:58 PM
enterprise competition Sprint's announcement is more evidence that the enterprise is where operators are putting much of their focus right now. AT&T said the same thing last week, and T-Mobile is holding its next Uncarrier event on Wednesday evening. The focus is expected to be on the enterprise. There is a lot of money up for grabs here.
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