T-Mobile USA is launching a new B2B service, T-Mobile Office Connect, which will allow business subscribers to provide their employees with a single phone number and voicemail box that integrates desk phone and mobile device capabilities. This would lead to more seamless interface and fewer missed calls, and also let companies save money by billing international calls – even from mobile devices – at the least expensive rates. The service, which is priced at $9.95 a month per line, is integrated with T-Mobile’s 4G network.
Since the business world is moving in the direction of seamless integration of fixed and mobile telephony, we can understand why T-Mobile would want to market its own version of a unified communications (UC) solution. However, with Office Connect, the MNO is offering features that are already widely available from mainstream manufacturers of UC systems, which leads us to believe that in this case the intended subscribers are very small companies – basically those that are too small to be able to afford even a modest mainstream UC solution. These “mom and pop” businesses aren’t likely to move the needle much for T-Mobile, financially speaking. In short, we don’t see very much potential for it to generate meaningful profits from this new service.
However, we do believe there is substantial potential for MNOs to achieve success from marketing UC services. Our suggestion is that contrary to the approach chosen by T-Mobile, they instead partner with one or more leading telecom systems manufacturers such as Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, NEC, Panasonic, Siemens or Samsung, to provide a joint solution. Such partnerships bring with them access to the types of serious business customers that MNOs crave, resulting in two new potential revenue streams – one from the joint venture with the manufacturer and the other from gaining direct access to businesses that have the financial resources to purchase UC systems and to which additional mobile services can be sold.