Vodafone launches combined fixed and mobile communications system for small and medium sized businesses Vodafone UK launched a combined mobile and fixed line service for small and medium-sized enterprises yesterday, which it claimed will save customers 20% on their telephone costs.
The new service will be available through Vodafone’s direct channels and through indirect partners such as mobile dealers and IT firms.
Vodafone One Net is a scaled down version of Vodafone One, a more sophisticated fixed and mobile line offering launched in June, aimed at large corporations and government organisations.
The fully hosted service provides customers with a single geographic number for use on fixed and mobile lines and on laptops. Users can switch seamlessly between fixed line and mobile depending on where they are with one voicemail under one contract.
Vodafone is offering the option of a predictable flat price call rate, per user subscription, which allows firms the flexibility to expand or contract the number of handsets and service volumes they use depending on the health of their business. Contracts are available for 24 and 36 months.
Firms can also have a virtual switchboard displaying all fixed and mobile phones, which indicates whether they are in use. The firm can then route calls to a free member of staff, either in the office or outside, without wasting the customer’s time.
Peter Kelly, enterprise director at Vodafone UK, said: 'We think this provides significant productivity, as well as cost benefits. A lot of SMEs find it a complicated task to manage their communications, which can take a lot of time and effort. Vodafone’s fully managed service allows staff to focus on their core jobs.'
Vodafone’s initial target segment is SMEs with 50 to 100 employees, but it is flexible above and below that range. The company’s research suggested that 80% of these SMEs were keen to reduce their costs because of the recession with 30% interested in fixed and mobile line convergence.
Vodafone has extended its long-term partnership with BT Wholesale to provide the fixed line aspect of the deal. It is also setting up a dedicated resource centre to deliver an end-to-end service for customers.
Kelly said: 'Customers will get regular upgrades incorporated into their maintenance fee. If there are significant upgrades then they will have to pay for that.”
Vodafone Enterprise currently gets about a third of its business from indirect partners. Kelly said that the aim was to push that to 50%. 'We want these local partners to grow with us. That means they will have to be upskilled, so we will supply training, and then properly certified.
'Some will just be re-sellers, but others will become strong partners. Over time they will take on more of the work such as installation, customer training and maintenance and they will be recompensed accordingly. The aim is to bring some stability and long-term commitment to our partners.'
Vodafone is attempting to get customers to buy into its vision for the future. At the moment the Vodafone One Net deal does not include integration with Microsoft and other office communications servers – something corporate clients get under the Vodafone One package. But this can be included in the future.
Vodafone has already rolled out One Net in Italy and the Czech Republic.