The UCStrategies Experts share their expertise in bylined articles, opinion pieces, blogs, and podcasts, to define unified communications, educate you about unified communications technologies, and help you make informed decisions about unified communications solutions.
UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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According to BroadSoft’s 2011 Mobile Enterprise of the Future Study, 60 percent of the firms surveyed said at least one-quarter of their workforce is mobile, and 44 percent have at least one-quarter operating solely using a mobile phone. In fact, 73 percent of respondents in the study expect mobile devices to replace office phones, with 60 percent expecting the transition to happen in the next five years. Clearly for today’s workforce these mobile devices and their apps have become foundational tools and a major influence on the use and direction of UCC.
This demand for reliable and secure anywhere, anytime, any device communications and collaboration has also manifested itself in MetTel’s customer base. In response the Company introduced the first phase of its mobile solutions strategy last month with the introduction of its MetTel Mobile Integration (MMI) service and just recently followed up with its Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Wireless Backup solutions, all three of which are discussed here. Overall, MetTel anticipates its development road to run over the next 12 months or so.
MetTel (short for Metropolitan Communications) is a Solution Provider with coverage throughout the US and with coverage for some products in Canada and Puerto Rico. At its core, MetTel is both a service provider and consolidator of other SP’s services. They have a complete UCC product portfolio based on BroadSoft’s BroadWorks platform. For redundancy these platforms are situated in California, New York and Texas. MetTel is also an MVNO on both the Sprint and Verizon Wireless networks. MetTel’s principal differentiator is providing its customers with a one-stop shop, its MetOne portal, for analysis and optimization of services’ billing and inventory by self-defined cost centers and helpdesk support for maintenance issues. The company is electronically bonded with all major Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) and acts as the centralized helpdesk and pro services partner for all of the underlying services.
MetTel Mobile Integration Service
MMI provides users the same office and wireless phone number, combined voicemail, mobile extension dialing and transfer of active calls between mobile and desktop phones. MMI allows users of any type of mobile phone to have deskphone-like features since no mobile client installation is required as this service is 100 percent network-based.
Customers who subscribe to MMI need not change any of their office telephone numbers, equipment or service plans. However, the service does require that customers switch out their existing mobile devices. This is an MVNO contractual issue tied to Sprint’s MVNO stance. In response, the Company offers handset options provided at no charge as part of the MMI service package.
There is currently a beta release of iPhones to MVNOs on the Sprint network. And MetTel is anticipating that they will be able to offer iPhones in the very near future for this and other services. iPads are not, however, available on the Sprint network today.
Business continuity can be maintained with full application functionality for mobile users when MMI is integrated to a hosted application server. This backup solution will support situations caused by SIP trunk failure among others.
Mobile Device Management
MetTel launched its MDM solution in partnership with AirWatch. This solution provides the ability to wirelessly enroll, configure and update device settings, enforce security and compliance policies, and remotely lock and wipe managed devices. Though this is a good app, it’s missing the added features and functionality contained in the AirWatch’s mobile application management suite, such as the ability to: configure corporate policies for public apps using whitelists and blacklists, and provide an enterprise app catalog where users can view, install and update apps.
The MDM solution is network and OS neutral and bundled in as part of MetTel’s wireless service. There is a monthly recurring rate structure available, however, for customers with mobile devices that are currently under contract to an alternative wireless provider.
This is a machine to machine (M2M) application that is available today on Sprint, Verizon Wireless and AT&T networks. Having three networks available permits customers to vary coverage preferences by location throughout the US. The key differentiator here is the engineering of the backend transport from these carriers back to MetTel’s MPLS network. As soon as a transaction hits a local tower it’s transmitted over a secure dedicated connection that’s been set inplace with all three SPs back to MetTel’s MPLS. No VPNs are required. In addition, the primary router is configured with an auto-deteck feature. As soon as a problem is detected with the primary link, there’s failover to a secondary one. The whole process is trasparent to the customer. Around-the-clock monitoring takes place atMetTel’s three NOCs.
What This Means to You
To Customers: MetTel sells to companies that vary in size from about 50 up to those in the Fortune 50. The majority, however, have about 150 employees. The most distinguishing characteristics of its customers are:
There is clearly customer interest here. MMI is currently being trialed by several healthcare customers within two months of going GA. And any new customer should do the same. Unless you are completely a greenfields customer, there will be interoperability concerns that you need to check out carefully. And you’re going to want to be comfortable with the end-user experience. As we said above, iPad can’t be used with MMI.
Moreover, UC application quality of experience must be investigated to assure the delivery maximum end user satisfaction across both fixed and mobile domains. This is more than just adequate QoS which focuses on packet loss, jitter and latency. Quality of experience is also concerned with such things as acoustic echo, noise, delay, speech distortion, application behavior (e.g., bandwidth throttling), etc. And of course, the total cost of ownership (TCO) for competitive vendor solutions should be calculated and compared including costs for: licenses, additional hardware, network QoS, implementation, maintenance, and training costs.
To Partners: MetTel goes to market with both a direct and indirect sales force. Its indirect agent channel has the traditional look and feel of any telco. The primary agent business model is that of a telecom consultant. An agent’s compensation includes both an upfront per line commission plus a residual over the life of the customer.
Over the next 12 months or so MetTel will be consistently introducing new features and new products based on customer demand. This can only be good news to the channel.
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