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Think Globally, Act Locally

On their way to becoming next-generation carriers, telcos employ complex but straightforward formulas to determine the best way to accommodate backward and forward network compatibility and evolution. They can also use empirical approaches to market opportunity assessments. But building a business on the technology foundation requires a "softer" skill set to coordinate customers and partners.

Business factors that can speed or slow progress along the evolutionary path include existing and potential partnerships, organizational structure, plans for mergers and acquisitions, and other operating dynamics. These factors become especially important when it comes to delivering sophisticated services to multinational customers or SMBs based outside incumbents' home territories.

To address issues of customer ownership, Verizon Enterprise Solutions and Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM), Switzerland's incumbent telco, created an alliance last week to provide enhanced global service and support capabilities to Swiss multinational companies and non-Swiss companies operating in Switzerland. This deal establishes clear-cut roles for each carrier: Swisscom will manage its customers, Verizon Business will manage its customers that operate in Switzerland, and the two will coordinate on shared customers.

Both companies and their customers can benefit. Swisscom, which is largely prohibited from international expansion, can offer Verizon Business's range of network-based services to large Swiss enterprises. Verizon Business customers can leverage Swisscom's locally dense infrastructure and customer service organization. To serve joint multinational customers, the two companies will create a specialist team to deliver a single point of contact for both local and global communications requirements. The customers get clearly defined support teams and access to the best parts of each carriers' network facilities.

This agreement, coincidently, complements Verizon Business's strategy for introducing PBX-Mobile Extension (PBX-ME) on a global basis. Starting with trials during the fourth quarter of 2008, Verizon Business will begin allowing global mobile customers to access enterprise-based directories, security policies, and other applications via their mobile devices without regard to the access network. Switzerland is on the list of countries for the first set of trials, which will extend PBX-based functions (e.g., four-digit dialing and directories) to customers' mobile devices. They will also test mobilized versions of some traditional desktop applications. While ordering and billing will take place in Europe, the PBX-ME functions will principally run from network operating centers in the U.S.

Through completely separate initiatives, Verizon Business has apparently coordinated next-generation technology with a corresponding business agreement. The next-generation service tests in Switzerland will enable customers to access them through clearly defined sales and support teams. This offers an example of one way to address both business and network aspects inside and outside an incumbent's local territory.

— H. Paris Burstyn, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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