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Unified communication

Verizon Lures SMBs With Mobile-First Plan

Verizon today launches a new service targeting the small to midsized business community with a mobile-first approach that lets them cut the cord on voice services or easily combine landline and mobile services into a more seamless whole. (See Verizon Goes Mobile for SMB Market.)

The Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) OneTalk service uses the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network’s national footprint, simplified billing and a Unified Communications approach to combining mobile and landline phones for call routing purposes to create a simpler way for SMBs to go mobile or support already mobile employees. Its target market is firms with fewer than 100 employees -- a US market currently under stress from heavy competition from the cable industry and other competitive service providers, many of whom are already integrating wireless communications.

Not surprisingly, one of the touted benefits of Verizon OneTalk is its availability on a national basis, versus the regional play of most cable SMB offers.

But the service also takes into account the fact that most SMBs are already trying to combine mobility with their other business services but finding it hard to do, or more expensive, says Alex Doyle, Verizon's director of UC and collaboration. Verizon believes that basing the service on its national wireless network will enable a more elegant and yet competitively priced approach, he said.

Doyle describes those solutions as “clunky and awkward” because they don’t do what Verizon can do with its wireless network, and that is make the service mobile first. The OneTalk approach would let SMBs use a service provider app model, similar to the outsourcing they are doing with other services using cloud-based options.

“When the wireless number is the core part of the solution, you can do a software-as-a-service type model for communications, but because it is built mobile-first, it is seamless from day one,” he says. Business customers can choose to integrate fixed and mobile services, go all mobile or even be all fixed with a path to mobile later on.

But the reality is that most SMBs are already going mobile, says Catherine Sugarbroad, Verizon's director of strategy and operations for business products. Verizon believes its OneTalk product does a better job of letting those businesses integrate mobility and fixed services in a way that serves their customers better and lets employees retain mobility or remote working plans.

In addition to a single bill and service provider -- or “one throat to choke,” says Sugarbroad -- Verizon is promising lower cost options along with auto receptionist services, hunt groups and line-sharing, which work uniformly across mobile devices and desk phones.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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