Unified communication

Genband Extends UC Reach With uReach Buy

Genband is continuing its services acquisition streak with the purchase of unified communications (UC) and voicemail provider uReach Technologies.

Genband Inc. says the acquisition, announced on Tuesday, is aimed at helping Tier 1 and Tier 2 fixed, mobile, and cable operators upgrade their legacy systems to more robust visual voicemail and communications services.

uReach has been powering voicemail for large operators, including Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) in the US, for a decade, but Sanjay Bhatia, Genband's VP of Transformation Solutions, says a "large portion" of operators are still stuck in non-IP voicemail solutions.

What it hopes to offer them is a migration away from those legacy systems and onto an integrated UC platform making use of uReach's advanced voicemail services, as well as video mail, a mobile fax service, and an automated VirtualReceptionist for small businesses. Its platform uses REST APIs, works over IMS networks, and supports open standards, which Genband says fits in with its own software-driven, open standards approach to telephony. (See Genband Unifies Its Enterprise UC Story.)

Bhatia adds that uReach's messaging capabilities are deployable from the cloud or over the top of the network, which makes it a good fit with Genband's overall mobile, cloud, and OTT strategies.

New Genband CEO David Walsh told Light Reading in September to expect more M&A from the company as it builds out its services portfolio around cloud communications, 4G voice, and WebRTC. Most recently it acquired fring, a voice-over-IP provider now deployed with French operator Bouygues Telecom . Terms of the uReach acquisition were not announced. (See Genband Acquires fring to Help CSPs Go OTT, Bouygues First to Use Genband's fring, What's Next for Genband?, and Pulling the Strings at Genband.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Sarah Thomas 2/18/2014 | 5:41:21 PM
Re: If UC it... Interesting feedback. Thanks for sharing, Phil!
futurephil 2/18/2014 | 1:50:23 PM
Re: If UC it... Short answer: They are willing to pay more. 

Long answer: 61% of smaller SMBs and 79% of larger SMBs told us they were interested, very interested or extremely interested in UC for their business. Both groups expressed a willingness to pay extra fees per month to have access to the UC feature set particularly when presented with a deeper description of UC features including integrated voicemail, and call jump (the ability to move a call across devices without interrupting the call).

We worked with a company that secret-shopped service providers to show exactly how diverse the pricing, packaging and offers can be. When looking at TCO, the lowest cost offers were around $50/user/month; the highest cost offers, over $140/user/month. I can share that data with you directly -- drop me a line.  



mendyk 2/18/2014 | 1:17:48 PM
Re: If UC it... Thanks, Phil. Did the survey pinpoint how much "more" SMBs would be willing to pay for UC?
futurephil 2/18/2014 | 12:00:59 PM
Re: If UC it... It's also tough to measure UC because vendors have sort of defined it however they like. We've done some research into what feature set SMBs want from service providers and it does help explain why some components of UC are more popular than others:

mendyk 2/18/2014 | 11:42:13 AM
Re: If UC it... Right -- that's been my take on UC for the past few years. There are some good reasons for it to be deployed, but maybe not enough good reasons, which means it doesn't move up the "to-do" list for operators. Again, that's not to say it won't hit the mainstream, but the ramp time has been pretty long.
TaraSeals 2/18/2014 | 11:23:50 AM
Re: If UC it... ALL of the analyst firms that do forecasting on UC and UC as a service (UCaaS) expect it to hockeystick into massive enterprise and SMB growth--and if you look at what's happening in the channel partner space, UC is one of the top offerings that those guys and gals are pushing--hard. I don't think there's any doubt that interest in UC is there, but so far the obstacles to adoption are lingering--namely, complexity. Acquisitions like GENBAND's of uReach help create a holistic offering with not just UC but everything else that UC requires to work. So that means simplified deployment for service providers and end users--and which goes long way to moving the market along.
brookseven 2/18/2014 | 11:22:59 AM
Re: If UC it... Dennis,

All of this is going to be a slow grind.  Over time systems will retire. Unless there is NEW business associated with it, why would anybody obsolete old voice systems.  I always read two arguments:

1 - The newer systems are lower CAPEX.  That would be true IF the carrier were buying lots of new systems.  But they aren't.  Hard to beat the cost of an installed system.

2 - The newer systems are lower OPEX.  This is actually not true. Yes, the product may take less space, power and cooling.  However, it has to be tested and approved.  People have to be trained to operate it.  Procedures and guidelines have to be written.  I have been told that a new product is a $20M deal for a Tier 1 carrier.  The lowered cost has to exceed that number to break even.

And worse yet for most of these systems is the relative scarcity of lab personnel.  Carriers do not have infinite bandwidth to approve new systems.  They focus on areas that are of importance to them.  The question for UC is:  Why is UC more important than SDN and NFV (or a million other things that can be done)?

Sarah Thomas 2/18/2014 | 11:22:13 AM
Re: If UC it... Btw, Ericsson will also be showing off its new enterprise UC wares, alongside Radio Dot, at MWC next week: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9246265/Ericsson_readies_mobile_unified_communications_push
Sarah Thomas 2/18/2014 | 11:19:18 AM
Re: If UC it... Features of UC seem to be popular, but not the whole suite of services, at least not yet. Plus, Genband will be pitching its offering aainst free alternatives like Google Hangouts (although Ray and I can tell you, it doesn't always work as advertised) and established vendors like Ericsson. Interest in uReach will likely be more about its voicemail services, I imagine. We take that for granted on iPhones, but a lot of operator and handsets are still stuck in the past with their voicemail offerings, ie. dial in, enter a password and have to listen to each message.
mendyk 2/18/2014 | 10:32:31 AM
If UC it... UC has been on the periphery for a long time now. Even as communication options have multiplied, it can't seem to crack the "must have" list -- kind of like videoconferencing. Do you think UC adoption will ever hit critical mass?
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