Telstra Liberates the Workforce with Fixed-Mobile Convergence

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• The workplace is going through transformation, leveraging technology to enable workers to be more mobile and collaborative.

• Telstra’s FMC solution helps to overcome several challenges in integrating UC&C and mobility solutions which overcomes some pain points faced by enterprises.

Telstra launched its Liberate fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) solution at Vantage 2017 with the aim to free workers from their desks. This launch is timely because workplace transformation is underway and enterprises want to achieve workforce mobility. This benefits individuals who want greater work-life balance, and for an organization, it means productivity and competitiveness. Many Australian organizations see this as a strategic move that will motivate staff, enhance collaboration and reduce overheads.

UC&C and mobility are essential parts of a workplace solution to enable the employees to work anywhere; but the integration of fixed and mobile communications has so far not resulted in a seamless experience. Enterprises need PBX functionalities (e.g., hunt groups, call hold, forwarding and transfer) and UC&C tools to be extended to mobile devices – UC&C vendors have responded with FMC solutions. However, earlier FMC solutions focused on redirecting calls over a VoIP network to reduce costs, and using unlicensed mobile access (UWA) to enable call handover between mobile and WiFi. While basic features could be extended over to a mobile device, these capabilities were never fully integrated or hardwired. Telstra Liberate solves that and allows business phone number to be displayed as the incoming call. This increases the chances of the customer picking up from recognizing the number as the entire fleet communicates from one number. This also connects customers with business, not a personal mobile number that can leave whenever an employee switches jobs.Telstra Liberate is a cloud-based FMC solution developed with Broadsoft. However, Telstra’s solution is not an over-the-top application (unlike the standard BroadCloud solution). It is integrated with Telstra’s network which enables native mobile calls to have better call quality, lower battery consumption and a more straightforward way of dialling and sending SMS. We have seen early success in North America and Europe where similar FMC solutions have been offered. Telstra is a major UC&C provider and the addition of FMC will strengthen its value proposition. The FMC solution will also be attractive to companies that are phasing out on-premise PBX and going mobile-only; temporary/mobile site; and companies with multiple branch offices. While this is an Australia-only announcement, we see it being offered upstream to banks (with features like call recording) and downstream to the SOHO.

However, Telstra’s Liberate does require customers to be on its own fixed and mobile networks. Many enterprises have existing relationships with Optus/VHA, which means Telstra will miss some opportunities. While Telstra offers native integration as a differentiator, some competitors also offer Broadsoft-based FMC solutions. For example, Broadsoft works with service providers such as Optus and Access4 to offer its cloud-based FMC. Optus launched its Loop service in May 2017 and customers are not aware of the benefits of a native integration. This is why FMC has had mixed results in other parts of the world. There is also limitation in extending the solution outside of Australia. If it wishes to extend overseas, it will need partners. Enterprise mobility, to date, has centered on the domestic market.

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