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Mitel Enters the Mobile Market - What Next?

TMCnews Featured Article


March 02, 2010

Mitel Enters the Mobile Market - What Next?

By Jon Arnold, Principal


Mitel is well known not just as a leading IP telephony vendor, but as a provider of many communications solutions across voice, data and video. The company has pushed that envelope further with its recent announcement of Mitel Mobile, and its entry into the mobile services arena. This is a pretty novel development, and when vendors begin competing directly with service providers, you know things are in flux. To explore this further, I set up a briefing with Laith Zalzalah, director of wireless and hosted solutions at Mitel (News - Alert) NetSolutions. What follows are excerpts from our interview.


Jon Arnold: Let’s start at the beginning. Last month you announced Mitel Mobile. Briefly tell us what this service entails and who you’re targeting the offering at.

Laith Zalzalah: Mitel Mobile is a U.S. nationwide wireless voice and high speed data service specifically tailored for business customers. It is offered from Mitel NetSolutions and is integrated with Mitel’s business communications platforms. The service will be bundled with the latest wireless devices and options.

JA: You’ve already been offering wireline service through NetSolutions, so adding mobility is not as big a leap as one might think. Telecom vendors don’t typically have a CLEC operation – how much of a differentiator do you think this will be for Mitel?

LZ: Mitel is unique in simplifying business customers’ communications needs by combining our wireline services (local services, WAN connectivity, SIP Trunking, etc.) with Mitel’s business communications platform. Adding wireless services brings simplification and provides a single point of accountability.

JA: Most of your communications solutions are utilized at the desktop. What was your rationale for adding mobility? To what extent is this about broadening the NetSolutions business as an operator, as opposed to Mitel’s traditional base of business?

LZ: Convergence (News - Alert) between wireline and wireless services is the main driver. Supporting the mobile needs of business and its users has been a major element of CPE-based communications solutions, so extending this through our NetSolutions offer also makes sense. The development of wireless services and devices which facilitate and simplify the use of enterprise communications applications further enhances mobility. Mitel has been developing and offering mobile applications to its business customers and Mitel Mobile simplifies the offer.

JA: I can see how mobility ties in nicely to Series X, which launched last year. How are you positioning all this to your enterprise and SMB customers? Is mobility simply an extension of what you’re doing on the desktop, or is there a bigger story here?

LZ: The Mitel Dynamic Extension feature launched last year is about simplifying communications utilizing multiple devices and making it seamless for our business customers. Mitel Mobile is a key component of the program as it pulls in a UC-enabled mobile device into the individual’s business extension and access their communications services.

JA: In terms of routes to market, what challenges do you see getting resellers and integrators to sell and support Mitel Mobile? Do they need a different or new business formula to get behind it?

LZ: Mitel NetSolutions is offered for resale through our direct offices and our reseller community who are certified as selling agents under the program. Mitel Mobile is integrated into this program and will also be available to certified agents. As such, resellers who are already positioning NetSolutions to their clients can now offer mobile services as well.

JA: With NetSolutions, you have a built-in base of over 10,000 customers in the US, and you’re working on getting CLEC coverage in the remaining states you are not certified in today . That’s a nice way to start offering mobile services, but how will Mitel Mobile win over customers from their incumbent wireless providers?

LZ: Mitel NetSolutions’ goal with our new wireless service is to further simplify the overall communications needs and reduce costs for customers. This entails flexible bundles and service packages, a single bill for the wireline and wireless services supported by industry leading customers support, and one person to call for troubleshooting and support.

JA: With today’s technologies, the idea of a vendor adding an MVNO service is not that far-fetched. Do you anticipate other telephony vendors following suit, or others from the broader spectrum of communications vendors?

LZ: Mitel is unique in operating as a network services provider, including both wireline and wireless services. While other vendors do not specifically offer this, we are seeing a trend in our industry to offer options or a mix of CPE communications products with hosted services. In some cases this may be offered directly by the vendor, or in conjunction with an existing service provider. Look for this trend to continue.

JA: Should Service Providers view Mitel Mobile as another form of disruptive competition, or as an opportunity to expand their wholesale business? Or to put it another way, will Mitel Mobile be good news or bad news for carriers?

LZ: For the carriers we are working with, this is an opportunity for them to expand their business. The notion of combining CPE with network services as an integrated solution is of huge value to customers and has been a big competitive advantage for Mitel.

Jon Arnold, Principal at J Arnold & Associates, writes the Service Provider Views column for TMCnet. To read more of Jon’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard







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